Five Simple Tips To Prevent Cybercrooks From Screwing You Over During The Holiday Season

Unless you’re related to the Grinch, the holiday season will hit town. Guest writer Liz Cornwell, from Australian software developer Auslogics, has some important and informative tips on how you can avoid potential dangers while shopping online this Holiday season – or, any time for that matter.

imageThe holiday season is a time of year that is wonderful and special for everyone – it’s the time for having fun, being with your friends and family, giving and receiving presents, and even making dreams come true!

For me, giving presents is just as exciting as receiving them. And what fun it is to shop for gifts, knowing that they will bring happiness and joy to your loved ones!

I’m pretty sure that you will do at least some of your shopping online. It’s not a secret that online retailers offer great deals. But at the same time there is always a potential danger of your money getting stolen by shifty dealers, scammers, and spammers.

OK, so maybe some of you don’t mind giving a couple of hundred dollars to thieves. However, it would be much better to donate that money to charity.

If you want to protect yourself from online fraud, then read on! Here are five simple tips that will help you shop online safely.

1. Use a Secure PC

No matter how careful you are, there is no guarantee that your computer is not infected. Anyone who browses the Internet, visits social websites, and downloads software simply cannot be 100% sure that their PC is malware- and spyware-free. So, before you start shopping, check that your computer has comprehensive protection and run anti-virus and anti-spyware scans. Use reliable up-to-date software.

We recommend using Auslogics Antivirus – not only will it protect you against viruses, spyware, and other threats, but it also has a feature called Privacy Control. This feature is especially designed to prevent hackers from stealing your personal data, so shopping online will be more secure. Auslogics Antivirus has a free unlimited 30-day trial, which will keep you fully protected for the next month.

If you can, avoid shopping from public computers, or a PC that your kids use to play online games and chat with their friends. Those PCs are likely to be infested with spyware, so your private data can get stolen no matter how careful you are.

2. Always Shop From Trusted Sites

There are a lot of sites that offer amazing bargains. In fact, some of them are so amazing that they simply can’t be true! Well, most of the time they aren’t – a lot of websites only pretend to be shops. All they want is to steal your money. Remember, nobody is going to offer you a car for the price of a burger. Therefore, I strongly advise you not to use search engine shopping. Or if you do, check and double-check the website before entering any payment details.

Pay attention to:

  • security seals
  • shipping, return, and refund policies
  • use of secure connection (https://) when the website asks you to enter payment details

You can also research unfamiliar shops on sites like RipoffReport.

Never – ever buy anything advertised via emails from unknown senders and never click on any links in those emails either. Those emails are almost always a scam and links take you to websites that put viruses onto your system. And never shop at web-sites that ask you to wire money or send money orders.

3. Control Spam

If you’re concerned about getting spammed by online retailers, you can always either create a separate email address for shopping online, or create aliases. Here’s how it’s done using Gmail.

For example, your address is and you are shopping at a website called So, when giving them your email address, type it as That way all future communication from that shop will be addressed to

So if they or someone from their network try to spam you, you will know it’s them and will be able to easily block them.

4. Pay With a Credit Card

Most of you will have several bank cards – some credit, some debit. Both can be used for online shopping, but it’s safer to use a credit card. Experts say credit cards give you less hassle when dealing with your bank, should unauthorized charges show up later on a monthly statement. Besides, you wouldn’t want to pay huge interest on your debit card overdraft, would you?

5. Think About Alternative Payment Methods

Did you know that you don’t necessarily have to use a credit/debit card when shopping online? There are plenty of other ways to pay for the goods you purchased – pre-paid credit cards, gift cards and certificates, and sometimes you can pay in cash upon delivery. Also there are websites like that allow you to shop online without having to enter your bank card details. Besides, online retailers actually encourage you to use a service like that by offering free shipping and an option to postpone your payment for up to 6 months.

These tips should help you shop online safely so that you don’t become yet another fraud victim. Enjoy your shopping and have a wonderful holiday season!

Regular readers are aware that I’m a big fan of Auslogics; a company which provides users with some of the best free applications on the Internet including, Auslogics Disk Defrag (recently reviewed here) – a “must have” addition to a serious computer user’s toolbox.

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Filed under Cyber Criminals, Cyber Shopping Tips, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Guest Writers, Internet Safety, Safe Online Shopping Tips

12 responses to “Five Simple Tips To Prevent Cybercrooks From Screwing You Over During The Holiday Season

  1. Hi Bill ~ quality post as usual 🙂

    Point 3 ~ gmail: that’s interesting if I’ve understood it correctly. Can you point to more information? Does yahoo offer the same feature?

    • Hi Michael,

      I think what Liz is getting at here is – setting up a new email account with the parameters she described. It’s not possible to add characters to an existing email address and expect it to open.



  2. hipockets

    Hi, Bill –
    Great article. I especially appreciate the tips about email addresses and billmelater.

    A few credit card companies offer “Virtual Cards”. These “cards” are time-limited and anything purchased with them is billed to the real card. They can be generated at the companies’ website and there is no charge. At least one company offers a small app for generating a “card” from your computer so you don’t have to visit their site.

    Out of curiosity — all my friends think I’m pretty curious :>{ — have you switched to Auslogics Antivirus from Microsoft Security Essentials?

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Hipockets,

      Thanks for the tip on “Virtual Cards” – I missed that.

      No way – no how – at no time – will I replace Microsoft Security Essentials. Ain’t gonna happen. 🙂



      • hipockets

        Gee Whitikers! Some unscrupulous people are really dumb!

        I just got an email with the subject “9ac8af9 135cc34ea Direct- Deposit payment was_ rejected” from billy wji menez1 966 @, (spaces inserted deliberately), with copies to at least nine other people. I did not open the email, but out of curiosity I did look at the header.

        Really? billy at is sending me an email about a rejected direct deposit? Really? How dumb does he/she think I am?

        On a serious note, I know, if he/she sends out enough emails, a few people might fall for it, open the email, and fill out a form with confidential information — even if the scam is so poorly contrived.

        My 88 year old aunt was scammed last week — she won a “sweepstakes”. Fortunately, she only lost a few dollars — she sent a check to “qualify” for the prize.

        Is there a site for reporting scams? I have billy’s email address, my aunt has a mailing address.

        Hmmmmm….I wondering……did StLouis have his head up his Aus?

  3. StLouis

    I did not find this article useful. More of an advertisement for AusLogics, which looking at what appearedd to be”fake” testimonials. .

    • StLouis,

      Good grief – “fake” testimonials! Having made that claim, you are, I expect, prepared to offer appropriate evidence.

      An “advertisement for AusLogics!” – One mention of an AusLogics product changes the focus of the article from valuable tips to an advert? Please!!


  4. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    I’ve used Spamgourmet from time to time. It allows you to create email aliases and there is the facility to stipulate how many emails you receive from a given site. That way if you are happy to receive an order confirmation or other follow-up but don’t want to be deluged afterwards, you can limit the number to, say, three. Anything above the number you allow simply disappears. I love anything that puts me in control. 🙂

    Kind regards

    PS In case “StLouis” is concerned, I have no connection with Spamgourmet!

  5. Simple tips but ones that so many people tend to forget! Especially over Christmas when people are more focussed on just “getting it over and done with” and not taking the usual steps they take when buying online.

    Do you think that now more and more people are using mobile devices and tablets to shop they’re forgetting security even more? We blogged on it here: