How to protect your cash online

Buying things online makes life easier and quicker, but it also comes with its own risks. Here's how to protect your money and make sure you stay safe while shopping online. 

Shopping online: the pros and cons

The days of sales starting on January 1st are long gone. So too the idea of queuing up on Boxing Day, for most people at least. Now the real sales start on Christmas Eve, and they happen online.

The benefits of doing our shopping online are numerous, especially with the sales. For a start you get to avoid the crush and the rush as people stamp all over each other to get the best bargains. 

You also don’t have to leave your home, particularly convenient if you’re less able to get on a bus or train into town or just don’t fancy facing the winter weather.

Your purchases also have greater protection, as you can return anything you bought (unless it has been customised) up to 14 days after you receive it. On the high street there’s no law saying a shop has to give you a refund.

All good so far. But there are also greater opportunities for you to lose your money. These are easily avoidable if you follow a few simple rules.


Go straight to the website or via a search engine

Sometimes fraudsters will send emails with dodgy weblinks. Though the email may look authentic, there are often tell-tale signs not everything is right, including the address the email is sent from. If something doesn’t look right, don’t click on those links. Instead go direct to the website by typing in the address or using a search engine.


Check the shop is secure

You might be sent an offer which seems fantastic, but it’s worth doing a little research on the retailer if you don’t recognise the name of the online shop. Ask friends or family if they’ve used the website in the past.

Other checks include looking for a padlock symbol in the address bar or bottom corner of your internet browser window. You want to see a closed padlock.

Also check for the letters HTTPS at the start of the website address. This is different to the common HTTP, with the S standing for secure.

You can also use services such as PayPal which act as an intermediary between you and the retailer, meaning your payment details don’t go to the website.


Pay with a credit card

You might be of the mind that credit cards aren’t a good way to pay. Well, if you don’t clear the balance in full each month this can be the case. But if you’re spending more than £100, paying by credit card gives you an added protection.

The Consumer Credit Act says the credit card company is equally liable for these purchases, so you might be able to get your money back from them if something goes wrong.


Don’t store your details

Though you might be the only people using your computer, it’s good practice to not autosave passwords or credit card details. This way there’s little chance someone else could log on and buy using your details without you knowing.


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