If your tactics for shopping the online Boxing Day sales could give the Boxing Day test a run for its money, or Cyber Monday, Prime Day, and VOSN sales are already scheduled into your calendar, you may not be too concerned about your online security.

However, scams are constantly evolving so even the most seasoned online shopper should take a moment to review their online security before shopping up a storm.

Never give out your password

This one is particularly important. As scams become more sophisticated, fraudsters become bolder and may try to trick you into giving out your internet banking passwords or SMS security codes. Recently scammers have attempted to impersonate the fraud team from several banks and asked for passwords and personal information to identify you. BCU will never ask for your BCU iBank password or BCU Bank app PIN.

Be careful what information you reveal online

Creating online store accounts can be a very effective, legitimate way for online businesses to capture your email address and preferences, and send you discounts and offers in the future. However, be cautious about the information you give out. Always use unique, strong passwords for these accounts. Make sure they are different from the passwords for your online banking or any other online service that stores your personal information.

Only buy from reputable websites

Your best bet for protection is to shop from well-known, trusted brands. Fake online stores promising abnormally low prices are common, so think before you purchase. It can help to research other sites, look at reviews, and ask yourself if the offer might just be too good to be true. It’s much safer to visit websites directly and ensure the site you’re visiting has a padlock symbol in the address bar, and the website address starts with https.

Sites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace might look like you’re getting a bargain, but scammers often set up fake accounts which can mean that you’ll never receive the goods. If you’re buying through these sites, make sure the transaction takes place in person, so you can inspect the goods and decide if they’re worth paying for.

Make your payments securely

When buying gifts online (or making any purchase), use secure payment methods such as PayPal, BPAY, or your credit card. If anything goes wrong, there may be schemes in place, such as Visa Zero Liability, to get your money back. If you’re asked to make a payment by direct bank deposit, money transfers, or Bitcoin, be alert – this is usually a warning sign you’re being scammed.

Hold onto your receipts and regularly check your bank statements or internet banking for signs of unusual activity.

Watch out for phishing schemes

The chances of receiving suspicious emails and SMS messages are especially high over the holidays or sales season. Never click on a link in an SMS or email requesting personal information, especially if they ask for your internet banking details. The same goes for unsolicited phone calls.

Beware of old fashioned theft

It’s easy to assume most theft or fraud crimes happen online, but opportunistic thieves still prey on the bustle of the festive shopping period. If you’re out shopping, make sure your purse or wallet is zipped up, and never leave it unattended in your shopping trolley.

If you’re using an ATM, cover your PIN and ensure your personal safety when withdrawing cash. Don’t forget, you can withdraw cash fee-free at most major bank ATMs around the country.

When shopping online and having goods delivered, provide details for the delivery driver if you have somewhere safe for the parcels to be left. It’s not uncommon for deliveries to be stolen from doorsteps, so always try to accept your deliveries in person.

For more information, visit ScamWatch, or the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

If you have any questions or concerns around your account safety, you can contact us on 1300 228 228.

Important information

Banking and Credit products issued by Police & Nurses Limited (BCU) ABN 69 087 651 876 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 240701. Any advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Read the relevant Product Terms and Condition, before acquiring this product in considering and deciding whether it is right for you. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for products is available on request. Lending criteria, terms & conditions, fees & charges apply.