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The rise of online shopping – and how to stay safe

The rise of online shopping – and how to stay safe

Category: Money

Updated: 25/11/2015
First Published: 25/11/2015

MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE
This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Online shopping is becoming increasingly prevalent, with research from Sainsbury's Bank Credit Cards showing that 36% of respondents are doing more online shopping this year. However, this means that the possibility of cyber security issues are rising just as much, and with 28% of respondents planning to take advantage of online Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, it reinforces the need for consumers to be extra vigilant when shopping online.

The need for caution is further highlighted by the finding that 10% of respondents believe they've been the victim of one or more online fraud experiences, which just shows that you really need to be careful when sharing any personal information or using debit and credit cards online. Common issues include shoppers making an online order that never arrived, having their card details stolen while shopping online, or using a website that turned out to be fake, and although you may think you wouldn't be a victim of such scams, they can be surprisingly common.

Simon Ranson, head of Banking at Sainsbury's Bank, commented: "If you're planning to do any shopping online – no matter what time of year – make sure you keep your personal information and credit or debit card details safe. There are a number of simple things you can do, like only using secure websites and buying from reputable retailers, and avoid using public unsecured WIFI to make any purchases."

Sainsbury's has come up with some additional tips on staying safe when making online purchases, and while they should be remembered at all times, it's particularly important if you're planning on taking part in the Black Friday sales frenzy – you wouldn't want to get carried away only to regret it later. You should:

  • Ensure the site is secure by looking for the closed padlock symbol in the address bar, and checking that the site's URL begins with 'https' rather than just 'http'.
  • If it isn't a well-known name or a site you've used in the past you'll want to check that the website is trustworthy, for example by searching for mentions of it on independent review sites.
  • Always use a strong password (names, birthdays and pets names are never ideal – try to go as random as you can remember, ideally by including a mix of numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letters) and never reveal it to anyone.
  • Have a different username and/or password for different sites you're buying from, and avoid any similarities with other online accounts you have. Don't use the same password for online shopping as you have for social media, for example, and likewise keep them all different to those used for your email or online banking.
  • Don't use a public computer or public WIFI for online shopping. It may seem convenient, but it won't be as secure.
  • Keep your antivirus software and firewall switched on and up to date. It may seem like a hassle or even an additional expense, but it'll be well worth it.
  • Don't store your credit card information on the shopping site's server. What would happen if the server was hacked? It may be time-consuming, but typing out your details each time will be far safer.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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