Staying safe when shopping online this Christmas

By Amber Chawner, Account Executive

2020 has flown by and I know we say it every year, but it really is hard to believe that it’s nearly time to start shopping for the ‘C’ word… With the new countrywide lockdown forcing consumers to do more Christmas shopping online than in previous years, it is important that both consumers and brands are doing their part in ensuring that online tricksters and cybercriminals are unable to supplement their gift budget using our funds.

According to Orberlo, one out of every four people you see around you now is an online shopper, and the number of online shoppers is expected to continue on its growth path and hit 2.14 billion by 2021. In order to stay safe online this Christmas, there are a few precautions that need to be taken. The first is to make sure that any goods that are in your basket are being purchased from legitimate brands. Before buying any bargain gifts online, take a moment just to sense check the brand’s website and online presence as more often than not, things that seem too good to be true, are!

The evolution of the high street and eCommerce has led many customers to purchase goods from social media sites, due to both the speed and convenience of doing so. Visa found that one in four online purchases was made in response to an interaction with a social media outlet. Many of those consumers agreed that they are not as vigilant while shopping online as they believe that social media apps protect customer privacy, which unfortunately isn’t always the case!

Businesses can support here, by taking steps to make sure that they’re actively monitoring their brand’s online activity to spot any counterfeit sites or activity that is using their IP to mislead consumers into purchasing fake items. Accessing sites with counterfeit goods on it can lead to customers’ personal details being compromised and being used for other fraudulent scams, as well as exposing their devices to malware and viruses. The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report found that, after price, the most critical factor in a customer’s purchasing decision is trust, meaning a loss of consumer trust can be detrimental to the future success of a brand.

For many – myself included – using your card online for payments is second nature. However, research from OpSec Security revealed that nearly half (47%) of consumers are concerned about using their credit card to make online purchases, with the main concerns being the possibility of cybercriminals stealing their personal details, scammers stealing their money and the risk of identity theft. According to UK Finance, fraud losses on UK-issued cards totalled £620.6 million in 2019 – translating to 2,745,539 cases. To prevent being one of those statistics, consumers need to do their research and always ensure they are using secure payment methods recommended by reputable online retailers.

2020 has had the highest number of cyberattacks to date, and the disruption caused by Covid-19 has definitely had an impact on that. With Christmas being a time of joy, both consumers and brands have a responsibility to ensure online shopping is a safe and enjoyable experience, rather than one that ends in tears.