Payal Dhar

This month, columnist Payal Dhar guest-blogs for Opera. Payal is a freelance writer and editor who writes about computers, technology, books, games and sometimes also fiction for teens.

 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a Diwali shopping list. After all, with all the schemes and discounts going around for online shopping, it’s the perfect time to snag a deal.Online shopping

Unfortunately, this is also the time when we are most at risk to a number of different online scams. Make sure you’re safe by reviewing these warning signs:

If a deal is too good to be true …

… it probably is. Don’t jump for joy at every great deal that lands in your email or messages inbox. Websites and promotional emails are very easy to spoof. Check the authenticity of the message carefully before clicking links or filling out forms with your personal data — usually a quick Google search will reveal all. This is not to say that any and all new online deals are going to be spurious. It’s just that, in the flurry of deals and discounts, it’s easy to insert a dud.

If you’re being offered something you didn’t order …

… run! Unsolicited mails or messages asking you to take action before the delivery of a product are definitely aimed at making your wallet lighter. This can happen in two ways — either by redirecting you to a site where you fill a form divulging payment information or by taking you to a page that installs malware on your computer (or other device) to steal your private data.

People asking for bank or credit card details on phone or email …

… are cyber-thieves. A bank or authentic online shopping site will never ever ask you for your personal details via email or on the phone. As a rule of thumb, if you click on a link that takes you to a site — even if it looks like your bank’s site — with a form that asks you to fill in your banking or card details, you are most certainly in the process of being hoodwinked.

New “friends” on social media …

… can be the devil in disguise. It’s natural to be all welcoming and friendly amid the bonhomie of the festive season, a fact that scammers take full advantage of. Be vigilant about the personal data you share on your Facebook page — some of this information can be used to reset passwords. Be wary of new friend requests and definitely don’t click on anything whose origin is unclear — you might end up with malware on your machine that will steal personal data or even lock down your device.

Moral of the season: when it comes to online shopping and deals, especially during the festive season, take a large slice of common sense and sprinkle it with some healthy scepticism. And, then you’ll be just fine and free to enjoy the festivities. (Fingers crossed!)

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