Tis the season to be jolly, or at least it will be once the shopping is out of the way. Nowadays, most of us choose to avoid that mad last minute dash by doing the bulk of our Christmas shopping online. But while it’s easier to splash the cash from the comfort of your own home, it’s important you remember to keep your financial details safe when you’re looking for the perfect gift.
To help you do exactly that, we’ve put together a list of top-tips that’ll ensure you don’t get any unwelcome surprises over the holidays. Take a look.
Most web users come with an Autofill feature feaure that kindly offers to remember passwords, usernames, and bank account details. Let's be honest, it's a great tool for those of us with a more forgetful disposition, but storing your bank details in the great digital beyond probably isn't the best idea. We know, typing your card details out every time you want to make a purhcase can be a tad annoying, but in the long-run it could save you a lot of hastle. Not only will it keep your details safer, but it'll mean they won't be at risk if you happen to misplace your phone or your laptop.
Lots of online stores will give you the option to pay using PayPal. For those of you who don’t know, PayPal is an online payment system that acts as something of a middle man between buyers and sellers. PayPal links directly with your bank account, but doesn’t share your sensitive financial information with sellers and storefronts, meaning you can shop with peace of mind without adding any extra hassle. Buyer protection even covers your purchases, making getting refunds and avoiding dodgy deals a doddle!
Don’t buy anything from a website that isn’t secure. It sounds so simple, but how can you separate the good from the bad? Well, secure webpages have something called SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. SSLs work by creating encrypted links between servers, allowing sensitive information like credit and debit card numbers to be transmitted securely. Websites that are SSL protected will display a small padlock symbol next to their name, and will feature an URL that begins with ‘https.’ It’s a small thing to look out for, but it could make a big difference.
Doing a bit of online shopping while you sip a freshly made latte in your favourite cafe might sound like the stuff of dreams, but it makes it harder to keep your personal information safe. For starters, you have no idea who’s sat around you, so keep an eye out for would-be information thieves when you’re spending in public. All someone has to do is look over your shoulder to see all the card details you’ve just typed in, so try to keep things on the down low.
Beyond that, it’s important you only connect to networks you trust. For example, if you’re in Starbucks, make sure you’re using their WiFi, and not another free hotspot you’ve never heard of. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even think about privatising your connection by creating a virtual private network (VPN). That’ll add another layer of encryption to help keep your information safe, and is relatively easy to set up. Check out TechRadar’s handy guide to find out how to get started.
You can only steer clear of fraud if you actually keep tabs on where your money’s going. It might seem painfully obvious, but it’s important you check your bank statements regularly to make sure there haven’t been any suspicious looking transactions. You’ll probably be spending a lot at Christmas, so it’ll be easier to write off a few quid here and there. ‘That £20? Oh, I’m sure that was on the Turkey.’ Well, don’t second guess it, check your statements to make sure everything adds up, because if it doesn’t, it’s important you act fast to stop fraudsters in their tracks.