NEW DELHI, INDIA: AVG Technologies, developers of the world's most frequently downloaded anti-virus software, has warned that cyber criminals watch out for opportunities such as holidays and festive occasions, which they piggy-back in order to lure victims to their malicious websites.
Roger Thompson, Chief Research Officer at AVG, commented: "In the run-up to Christmas, many websites are set up claiming to offer top gifts at market-leading prices. Shoppers often fail to check the authenticity of these retailers, and end up handing money over to a website which simply vanishes a few weeks later."
To help users remain safe while using the internet, the company has produced a list of 6 Top Tips to avoid being the victim of scammers:
1. Think before you link. Employ a URL scanning tool to ensure you don't click on links that lead to infected web pages. The time to find out whether a page is bad is BEFORE you load it into your web browser - AVG LinkScanner does this. It's free, and it works with all other security and anti-virus offerings.
2. Look for the "S" - Make sure the websites you are purchasing from are secure and have "https" in the URL when you are in their checkout/purchase process. The "s" ensures security. When you are in the secure section of a web site, you will also see an icon of a locked padlock on your browser, either on the address bar or on the bottom right corner.
3. Stay current on security software - This means making sure you have the latest virus protection software updates from your security software provider. It's important because the bad guys move around frequently, but security software companies are working to stay one step ahead of them. If you are up-to-date, you are staying one step ahead, too.
4. Keep your private information private - When shopping online, create a separate e-mail account that is just for shopping. Use a unique password, different from any other accounts you have. Your dedicated shopping e-mail account should be in no way affiliated with your personal, everyday e-mail account. Also, keep records of your online shopping ¡ª print confirmation pages and e-mail confirmations.
5. Mix up your passwords - Each shopping account, bank account, credit card account, and e-mail account should have a unique password. Write them down and keep the information in a secure location. Unique passwords for each account make it tougher for a thief to steal your personal information.
6. Use common sense - Make sure you use reasonable judgement when buying online and be on the lookout for spoof stores. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Take a minute or two to make sure it's not a fake/spoof web site. If the online retailer doesn't provide a physical address, or contact phone numbers, be cautious. Make sure you understand the refund and return policies of any online retailer you are planning to buy from, especially if it's based overseas, just in case something were to go wrong.