Christmas Shopping – Compassion, Cookies & Scams!

Image: Christmas shaped gingerbread (Photo: Petr Kratochvil via MGN Online)

With less than a month to go now until Christmas Day and Black Friday on the horizon, here are a few things to consider when carrying out your Christmas shopping online!

Compassionate Christmas Shopping

Did you know that there are sites which give a percentage of your spend as a charitable donation every time you shop online? And it doesn’t cost you a penny more! donates 0.5% of the net purchase price to the charitable donation of your choice. Other retailers also have charity partners. Shop at John Lewis, M&S, eBay, Amazon, Argos, The Body Shop & more through charity portals such as Easyfundraising where the retailers pledge to donate part of your spend to your chosen cause.

Simply buy through the website or download the app, select your chosen charity and then select your chosen retailer. A percentage of your purchase is automatically sent to your chosen cause and you will receive a regular email informing you how much you’ve raised. It really couldn’t be easier. There are charities of every size listed – and you can also add others if you’re fundraising for a specific local project – so help support them and give new meaning to the gift of giving.

Spot Seasonal Scams

Every year, as Christmas draws closer, cybercriminals tend to ramp up their activities as they try to capitalise on the fact that people are buying more products online, searching for more gifts & spending more time on their computers.

Fake retail websites are sometimes set up in order to trick people into “buying” items. Spam email campaigns are launched that offer seemingly unbeatable ‘Christmas Deals’ where links in the messages lead to sites that look like the websites of well-known companies. Logos and other elements from genuine company websites may be used but beware, you will never receive any items you ‘buy’ on these fake sites. And, via the bogus purchase pages on the scam websites, criminals can harvest your credit card details and other personal information.

Others to watch out for are Charity phishing scams, whereby fake sites are set up to ask for donations and your credit card details, or Christmas reward phishing scams, offering a too-good-to-be-true prize when you click on a link and give your login details and password.

Whatever festive greetings & gifts you’re offered, always ensure you vet the charity, organisation or website in question and always look for the tell-tale signs of seasonal scam emails.

Clear your Cookies

Every time you visit a site, Cookies are created to track and monitor your movement around the web. They store your preferences and therefore speed up your time on the Internet and improve your web experience.

If you’re returning to websites and repeatedly entering the same or similar search criteria, whether it’s a surprise Christmas get-away or a beautiful knitted scarf for Nan, then the website and servers that run them can begin to build up an idea of your preferred purchases and can use this information to increase the prices ever so slightly.

So how do you ensure you get the best price possible? It’s simple, clear out those Cookies before committing to any purchases.

For those of you using Internet Explorer, it’s a simple 2-step proces

  1. Open Internet Explorer & click on Tools > Delete Browsing History.

2. Check the box ‘Cookies and website data’ and click Delete.

Once you’ve done this, the next time you visit the site you’ll be seen as a new visitor. After dealing with that annoying ‘this site uses Cookies’ prompt you will be offered the very best price to try and tempt you into those Christmas bargains!

If you would like further assistance or need help with your browser of choice, do get in touch – in the meantime, happy shopping!