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Christmas shoppers urged to avoid risks online

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More than a quarter of people surveyed said they had been the victim of a scam during the holiday season shopping.
Photo: 123RF

If you’re planning on doing your Christmas shopping online this year, you might want to be careful what you click on.

Research from cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock found almost a quarter of people surveyed took more risks when buying online during the holiday season than other times of the year.

This is despite 28 percent saying they had already been the victim of a scam during previous holidays seasons, losing on average $509.

“People are really feeling the pinch at the moment, cost of living is increasing”, NortonLifeLock managing director Mark Gorrie said.

“What’s happening now is they’re really looking for that deal to try and save money. Unfortunately this is the right environment for scammers to take advantage.”

The survey found that while people were aware of the risks online, nearly a quarter of New Zealand adults (24 percent) surveyed had made a holiday season purchase by clicking on questionable ads on social media, putting themselves at risk of fraud.

“You’ve got the situation where people are looking for deals and they’re prepared to take risks to find it, so they will unfortunately click on those links through emails, text messages, too-good-to-be-true offers.”

The risk was the links might lead to a fake shopping website which would harvest the user’s credit card credentials or other private information, and eventually get to identity theft.

The best advice was to be careful where you shop; go to reputable sites that you know exist and don’t click on link attachments that turn up unexpected emails or texts, Gorrie said.

Social media was another platform for scammers and fake ads will pop up.

If you did end up at a shopping site you had not used before, spend some time researching how long it have been operating, whether it had a physical address that could be checked, and whether there were customer reviews on the site.

Warning signs of sketchy sites included poor spelling, odd design and slow loading.

The research was conducted online in August 2022 among 1001 New Zealand adults by The Harris Poll.

More information on shopping safely online can be found on the Consumer Protection website and CERT NZ.

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