How can I shop safely online?

Between days at work and the crowds on the high street, it’s often more convenient to do your Christmas shopping online. We’ve put together a few tips to keep you safe while doing so – giving you more time to put up the tree or indulge in a festive mince pie!

  1. Christmas Shopping OnlineBefore you start shopping, make sure your anti-virus and firewall software are up to date to protect against the latest threats.
  2. Consider using your mobile or tablet to shop, as they are less at risk from online threats than a PC. You can also use the Google Chrome browser which forces the use of secure https pages (see below).
  3. Check for an https:\\ address and a padlock in the address bar to show that the site is using encryption to protect your data. Padlocks on the page itself don’t mean anything, they must be in the browser bar.
  4. Type in the web address yourself – links in e-mails and websites can appear authentic, but can take you to fake pages designed to capture your data. Similar web addresses are often used to try and fool customers, for example “”
  5. Use a different password for each website you shop with, and never reuse your internet banking password – that way if one password is compromised, the others are still secure. If you find them hard to remember, you can download secure utilities to remember them for you, such as 1Password or PasswordWallet. Don’t forget that you will never be asked for your password by e-mail.
  6. Use PayPal to avoid giving your card data to companies directly – this protects you in the event of a fraudulent transaction. You can link your PayPal account to a debit or credit card, but they will never pass your financial details onto retailers.
  7. Register for an extra PIN or password with MasterCard SecureCode or Verified by Visa – once you’ve signed up for these systems, you can’t make a purchase from participating retailers without the additional password, providing an extra level of security.
  8. Check your bank statements regularly for transactions you don’t recognise, as it’s often the first sign that your card details may have been compromised. Your bank or card provider will usually have a fraud department that will be able to assist you.
  9. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is! You can find bargains on the internet, but use the same caution you would when shopping on the high street – it’s easy to make a reputable looking website with positive customer reviews to lure customers in.
  10. Don’t open e-mails claiming to be from delivery companies such as FedEx or UPS. These are usually spam, with links to websites containing viruses, or designed to capture your information and address book contacts. Confirmation of your delivery will usually come from the website you ordered from.