How to buy Valentine's Day gifts online without falling victim to scams and hacks
it is important to ensure that you avoid falling victim to scams and malicious hackers when shopping online REUTERS/Tony Gentile

It is that time of the year when people across the globe are scrambling to buy a gift or multiple gifts for their paramours to ensure that they don't end up in the dog house or worse, end up back in the singles game. Shopping for Valentine's Day gifts can be a daunting task. Although the joys of online shopping ensure that one can purchase anything with just a few clicks, it is important to ensure that you avoid falling victim to scams and malicious hackers.

The sheer convenience provided by online retail sites are always a big attraction for many who are looking to purchase something for their loved ones, without burning a hole in their pockets and spending hours aimlessly roaming about a shop. However, the pitfalls of online shopping, especially during a holiday are the risk of being targeted by scammers and hackers. Nevertheless, there are some measures you can take to have a safe and fulfilling online shopping experience.

IBTimes UK helps you shop safely online with these useful tips on how to avoid falling victim to scams and other cyberthreats.

Only provide the bare minimum of personal information

Most retail websites demand some amount of personal data from customers when processing orders. While some of this information, such as name, address and phone number may be necessary for the retailer to have, in order to complete the transaction, additional information is usually optional.

Few websites also request additional, optional information such as date of birth, middle name, hobbies, etc., which unlike other data, does not come with an asterisk symbol denoting the necessity of the data. It is advisable that you not hand over such optional information.

Never share passwords

One of the most basic rules of internet safety is to never share your passwords with anyone. Even in the event that someone else is making a purchase on your behalf, it is highly risky behaviour to hand over your passwords and always preferable that you enter your own passwords.

It is also safer to never check the "remember my password" section that appear on most websites. This ensures that subsequent users on a shared computer are deterred from gaining access to your password and ensures that your account is not used without your specific authorisation.

Be wary of too good to be true deals via email

It is not uncommon for consumers to receive special deals from retailers via emails. However, cybercriminals are sometimes known to craft scam emails, purporting to be from legitimate retailers, in efforts to infiltrate your accounts and devices.

Consumers are advised to be wary of emails that advertise deals that appear to be suspicious or outlandish. It is also important to not click on links included in such online communications, which hackers often use as social engineering techniques tricks to lure people to malicious and/or fake websites.

Buy from trusted and preferably local sellers

When buying online, it is always safer and more convenient to buy from a local seller. When the retailer is based in a different country, the terms and services may be subject to changes and it could be more difficult and expensive to resolve issues relating to your order. More importantly, familiar and local sellers can be more easily approached when dealing with issues surrounding data demands and enforcement of consumer rights legislation.

Check your bank account statements regularly

It is highly advisable that you keep regularly checking your bank account statements, especially after purchasing products over the internet. This ensures that all payments made were legitimate and in the event that you discover an unauthorised transaction, you can immediately alert your bank. In matter such as fraudulent transactions, early warnings can sometimes aid bank authorities to track and analyse transactions made, which then can lead to faster and more efficient ways to resolve issues.