Monday, November 28, 2011

How to say "I don't care" this Christmas

Christmas is less than a month away and, no doubt, many folk are now considering what gifts to buy friends and family.

If you were hoping to post a gift to Aunt Agatha in the UK or your old friend Eustace in the USA then chances are you've already left it a bit late -- but fear not, the Internet will save you!

Online shopping is a great way to save money and ensure that last-minute gift is delivered on time to those people in far-away lands - what's more, it's almost certainly cheaper than buying locally and then spending a small fortune on postage.

Unfortunately there are often a few hiccups in the process.

Some online retailers won't ship to a country other than that in which your credit card is registered. That makes a lot of sense -- since the trade in stolen/cloned cards is rife and the savvy fraudster will always try to use a card from a foreign country when buying online.

However, if you can find an online store in the UK that will accept payment from NZ for delivery to a UK address then you'll save a bomb (on the postage at least) when buying for Aunt Agatha and the time from clicking "buy now" to actually having the item in her wrinkly little hands will be greatly reduced.

So cyber-savvy makes good sense when buying gifts -- but there are instances when you really ought to give the Net a very wide berth at Christmas.

Please, please please -- do not send e-cards to people you care about.

It reeks of "I'm so cheap I couldn't afford a stamp" or "you're so unimportant I just figured I'd spend 2 seconds sending you an e-card instead of a real one".

Not only do these e-cards make you look like a cheap, insensitive clod, they also make it much easier for malware producers to sneak nasty payloads onto the PCs of unsuspecting victims.

For every genuine e-card that arrives there are goodness knows how many unsolicited malware-versions that are sent out by those seeking to build or grow their botnets -- and collect credit card details from the unsuspecting, in order to fund their own fraudulent online purchases.

So there you have it -- my Christmas tip -- don't send *anyone* an e-card and be very, very wary of opening any that might arrive in your own inbox.

In fact, why not send an email to all your "friends" and family right now, advising them that you won't be accepting e-cards this year for security reasons. That'll mean that those cards which do arrive in your inbox will almost certainly be bogus and it'll also remind those cheapskates who were planning to save themselves a stamp that they really need to think again.

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