Christmas Shopping – How to Stay Safe Online

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Shopping online is so much easier and more convenient than fighting with the crowds on the High Street. However nearly a third (31%) of online shoppers admit they’re tempted to put themselves at risk during the rush to bag a Christmas bargain, according to research by Financial Fraud Action UK.

Christmas is one of the busiest times for online shopping and this is a peak time for scammers and fraudsters. Here are a few tips to help you to stay safe while you are doing your Christmas shopping.

Tip 1. Shop at reputable stores

At Christmas, you’re more likely to visit websites you wouldn’t normally use. Perhaps you’re looking for a present for someone that you can’t find on websites you’re familiar with. But never put your credit card details into sites you don’t trust.

It’s a good idea to stick to using websites of well-known companies such as Boots, Amazon or Marks and Spencer.

Tip 2. Double check the website’s URL

Fraudsters will create “fake” versions of genuine websites where the address has been slightly changed to try and trick you. Many fake sites will use a site name that refers to a famous brand that’s likely to be popular over Christmas, but it won’t be an official site, For example Be wary of website addresses that end in .net or .org as these aren’t usually used for online shops.

Tip 3. Look for ‘https’ in the website address

There should also be a padlock or unbroken key symbol in the browser window at the beginning of the website name.

Before you enter your debit or credit card details, make sure the payment page is secure by checking that the address starts with ‘https’. The ‘s’ stands for secure.

Tip 4. Regularly install security software updates

Make sure you’re using the latest updated version of your internet browser to avoid malware sneaking in. Remember to keep your mobile phone and I-pad updated as well as your computer and laptop.

Tip 5. Keep an eye out for fake emails

Fake emails supposedly sent by online stores could be attempts to steal your login or card details.

Never click on links or attachments within these emails as they might take you to a fake website. Type in the company’s website directly instead.

There might be some great deals advertised on social media or by email. Make sure that you check out the website and satisfy yourself that it is a genuine company. The best way to do this is to go to the company site yourself rather than clicking the link on social media or in the email. You should still be able to find the deal – if it was a genuine one!

Tip 6. Always log out after you have finished on the site

If you’ve logged into a website to make a purchase, always make sure that you log out once you’ve finished your shopping and don’t save your password. Closing the window doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve logged out; a fraudster could still gain access to your account and any details like your address or credit card details that are stored there.

Tip 7. Check your bank and credit card statements

You should always check your bank and card statements but at Christmas it is a good idea to be extra vigilant. There are usually more transactions than normal going through your account so keep an eye on them to make sure that they are all yours and all for the correct amounts.

Fraudsters who’ve stolen your card number can charge you a small unnoticeable amount at first to test whether the payment goes through and then try a larger sum later.

Contact your bank or credit card company straight away if you spot any suspicious transactions.

Tip 8. Think before you click

Remember – if an offer or deal seems too good to be true, it probably is!