Seven steps to safer online Christmas shopping

3 minute read

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Avoid long queues in over-crowded shopping centres and enjoy online Christmas shopping safely with our top cyber security tips. 

  • Don’t let online retailers save your payment details
  • Check the authenticity of online retailers and deals
  • Use familiar websites you trust 

1. How to use your common sense online

As with many things in life, if an online deal looks too good to be true – it probably is. Check the authenticity of online sites offering fantastic deals before you proceed with a purchase. 

Take a look at company or product reviews and do a little research. Reviews can easily be faked so you should check other things to help verify the site. Looking out for the padlock and https at the start of the URL is a good indicator that the site is safe to enter payment details.

2. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks

Although plenty of public places offer Wi-Fi these days, it’s a good idea to avoid them, especially if you’re entering private information. To keep your payment details and login information safe, only shop online using a private Wi-Fi connection – such as the one in your home. 

Public Wi-Fi locations are often more vulnerable to spyware and scams that could steal your personal information. 
When it comes to safe online shopping over the festive season, it’s best to stick with what you know. Aim to use official websites of reputable retailers.

3. Don’t let retailers save your payment information

Although saving your payment details to a retailer’s website can save you time when it comes to future purchases, it could make your personal details more vulnerable to fraud.

If you leave your payment details saved online and that retailer experiences a data breach, your payment information could be compromised. Remember, the more a site knows about you, the more information you risk losing.

4. Create strong passwords

If you want to create an account with a retailer so you can easily track your order or get a refund, make sure your password is as strong as possible. 

Keeping your information safe behind a secure password is one of the most basic ways to ensure you can shop safely. Most websites will advise you to create a strong password when you open an account. 

Typically, a secure password will include: 

  • A mix of upper and lowercase letters
  • Numbers
  • Special characters

It’s also good to try and include two different words in your password to make them even stronger. Avoid using family names or birthdays as these may be accessible via social media. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts either – this means if one account becomes compromised, so will others.

5. Check your account statements regularly

Keeping an eye on your bank statements over the festive period won’t necessarily keep your money safe, but it will make it easier to spot any breaches. If you have online or mobile banking, make sure you check your statements weekly, especially when you know you’ve been shopping online. That way, you can jump on any suspicious activity and flag it with your bank or payment provider.

6. Keep your tech up to date

To continue to shop online safely, you need to make sure you update your security and anti-virus software.

While most people will have a security suite installed, few remember to update it regularly. New viruses and threats are created all the time, so the most up-to-date software and firewalls are crucial to keep your information secure.

7. Set up your device securely

The festive period is a great time of year to treat loved ones to that extra special gift, with consoles, gadgets and digital assistants at the top of many wish lists. As well as knowing how to shop for these sought-after items safely, it’s important to understand how to keep your information and your loved ones secure when using and setting up your devices too.