Ten tips to stay safe when shopping online 

Sam Foster
Tuesday 29 November 2022

Follow our online shopping guidance to avoid scam websites and protect yourself when browsing online.

1. Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication

Create a strong and unique password using our password guidance when creating an account on online retailers. If available, add multi-factor authentication to your account. Both measures will help secure your account and any personal information stored there, such as your name and address. 

2. Look for the padlock and only shop on websites using HTTPS

Never enter your personal information, or credit or debit card into a website that doesn’t display a padlock. The padlock means the website is encrypted and stops anyone from intercepting and viewing your personal data over the internet. Read more about HTTPS and what this means on our earlier blog post.

3. Don’t shop using public wifi

Avoid using public wifi when online shopping as you never know who may be listening in to your internet traffic.

4. Don’t click on unsolicited emails  

Cybercriminals never miss an opportunity to attempt to scam people to steal their information – or their money. Be careful when clicking on links you find in random emails, especially if they are offering too-good-to-be-true offers. 

Read our helpful guide to help you spot phishing emails. 

5. Check your credit and debit card statements regularly  

You should keep track of your purchases and their prices, and regularly check your credit and debit card statements to make sure they are correct. This will help you keep track of your spending and spot any fraudulent charges – contact your bank immediately if you identify any suspicious charges.

6. Make sure your software is up to date  

Before browsing the internet, ensure your computer is up to date. This includes your operating system, browser, and software.

Check our blog on the importance of keeping your devices up to date.

7. Look for company reviews 

It is worthwhile researching organisations and reading reviews of past customers to ensure that they are legitimate companies using reputable consumer websites.  

8. Use credit cards

Use a credit card when shopping online if you have one. Most major credit card companies provide more protection to customers such as conditions to refund customers under certain policies. Further, if your credit card details get stolen your main bank account remains unaffected. 

More information can be found on the Money Helper website, or by speaking to your credit card provider.  

9. Review the return and refund policy

All reputable businesses should have returns and refund policies. Familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions before purchasing the product – giving yourself security and peace of mind in case the product is faulty, or not what you expected.   

10. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is  

When an offer is unrealistic, question whether it’s real. In most cases, it will be a scam.

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