Secure Christmas Shopping + Geeky Gift Ideas

Christmas present on a white background

‘Tis the season to be attempting some socially-distanced shopping! What could be more fun than crowded stores and people awkwardly trying to keep a metre or two apart from each other?

If that sounds like something you’d rather avoid – and you’re planning to indulge in some online Christmas shopping to avoid the stress – we hear you. But when you’re shopping online around Christmas, it pays to be a little careful.

In this article, we bring you Dial A Geek’s very own naughty and nice lists. The nice list is full of cool tech gifts. The naughty list explains how to stay safe when you’re gadget shopping online over the Christmas period:

Gadget gift ideas for 2020

1) Smartwatches

Everyone’s heard of the Apple Watch. But what if your favourite tech-head uses Android instead?

If you want to splash your cash around a little, a smartwatch – such as the Moto 360 or Samsung Galaxy Watch3 – is a pricey but pretty awesome place to start.

The Moto 360, for instance, is super-fast and equipped with GPS and NFC, so you can make contactless payments with it. It’s pretty swish on looks too, with a leather strap and stainless-steel watch section.

Gone are the days when you used to have to tap the watch or shake your wrist like a wet dog to see the time with a watch like this. The Moto 360 adapts to light levels, so you can always see what’s on the screen. Whether that’s your latest workout-tracking app or a classy watch screen.

2) DIY telescope kit

Dialling the price way down but levels of fun way up, has created a very affordable telescope kit that budding astronomers – or sci-fi fans of any age – will find stellar-levels of appealing.

The 16x magnification the kit can achieve is enough to see the moon at a decent level of detail. Plus, the fun of building the scope yourself and then looking through it cannot be understated.

3) Somneo Sleep and Wakeup Light

Okay, initially this sounds like a duffer. But hear us out!

The number of people who have found getting to sleep a whole lot more difficult in 2020 has skyrocketed. Stress levels are through the roof for many people and that creates a vicious cycle when more stress leads to less sleep leads to more stress.

The Somneo Sleep and Wakeup Light from Phillips has been proven to help users get a batter night’s sleep. It simulates natural sunrises and sunsets to encourage your body to sleep better. For 2020 and on into 2021, it could be the gift that keeps on giving (sleep, that is).

4) Peak Design Tech Pouch

This isn’t strictly tech, but it’s definitely tech adjacent and super-handy if you or someone you know regularly goes travelling with a hundred different pieces of tech kit about their person.

The Tech Pouch has slots for memory cards, charging cables and all kinds of smaller gadgets. It’s weatherproof and available in a range of colours too.

For the gadget-obsessed person who likes to choose their own tech (and don’t we all?), you can’t go far wrong.

How to shop securely at Christmas

1) Check your own computer

Before you start shopping online, you need to take care of some cybersecurity basics. Checking for viruses is the first step. And yes, this applies to Mac users too:

  • Check your virus protection is up-to-date
  • Run an antivirus scan
  • Be wary of common signs you have picked up a virus, including your computer suddenly running very slowly, certain programs crashing for no reason and pop-ups

2) Check the website you’re buying from

Are you buying from a secure website? How can you be sure? The quickest way is to check the URL bar and payment options. You are looking for:

  1. An URL which includes the “https” signature
  2. A padlock symbol
  3. For security, aim to use PayPal for purchases from smaller stores. Or one of the other secure options, such as SagePay, Amazon Payments or Worldpay

This is all no reason to simply be sending your money directly to Jeff Bezos this year. But do be aware that dodgy websites do exist. A little check for signs of security on smaller websites is a Xmas online shopping basic.

3) Check your payment method

While PayPal keeps your details secret, there is another way to protect your hard-earned money from potential scammers when shopping online: the pre-paid credit card.

A pre-paid credit card is good for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it will be protected by the Consumer Credit Directive. This means that your bank or card provider will cover you for certain things – perhaps the business you’re buying from goes under or the product you buy is very poor quality, for example.

All you need to be sure of is that your gift costs more than £100 and less than £60 000. Then you’re covered by the directive.

Secondly, your pre-paid card – and anyone who somehow manages to gain access to it – only has access to the money you top it up with. Credit cards also offer other protections which pre-paid cards also receive.

Getting a credit card just for Christmas shopping might sound like extra effort. But it might well be worth it for the added security it provides.

Want some more handy tech tips like this after the Christmas period?

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