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The three essentials of online Christmas shopping

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

With just three weekends left for Christmas shopping, many are turning online to beat the queues and bag some bargains. Before you log on, follow these three essential tips to ensure your online safety.

Only around half of Brits prefer to do their Christmas shopping exclusively on the high street or at shopping centres rather than online, according to research from mobile network giffgaff. The popularity of online shopping is increasing all the time, but with a number of data breaches in 2017, shoppers need to be aware.

Here are three top tips to protect yourself:

1) Passwords matter

Make them secure by using a combination of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and characters. Change them often too – the longer you leave a password the same, the longer any old personal data stored online will be of value to fraudsters. It’s also important not to use the same password for multiple log-ins, otherwise if you’re hacked once you’re hacked entirely. This is particularly important if you save card details on a host of retailers’ websites.

2) Only part with your cash on credible websites

The clearest sign that the website you are using is secure is the green padlock symbol on the address bar. Also think about how you got to that website – have you followed a link from a marketing email? And are you sure the website is legitimate, and owned by the retailer it claims to be? Our research shows that only half of us have ever given up on a purchase because of a worry about security. But if something doesn’t feel right, it often isn’t. Fraudulent websites are more likely to crop up around busy retail periods, like Christmas. Never enter card details on a site that doesn’t have the padlock symbol.

3) Consider using a credit card rather than a debit card for purchases over £100

Doing so means you’ll benefit from the extra consumer protection offered by credit card providers under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (1974). Regardless of whether you need to borrow on a credit card in order to spread the cost of Christmas, or if you plan to repay the balance in full, there is a real difference between the levels of consumer protection offered by different types of plastic. If the goods you buy online are faulty later down the line or never arrive, it can be more difficult to get your money back if you have paid using a debit card. However, Section 75 means by law the retailer and credit card provider are liable to help you get your money back. This protects you for purchases from £100 to £30,000.