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16 December 2021
Hyperoptic Team

How to stay safe when shopping online

December is officially in full swing, which means a number of things – one being that the Christmas shopping has well and truly commenced. At a time where we use the internet the most to purchase goods for our nearest and dearest, it’s really important that you stay safe online.

So, if you’re wondering how to stay safe when shopping online, we’re here to help. Read on to discover the best tips to ensure maximum security when you’re browsing the web (and on a spending spree).

Is online shopping safe?

Yes, but you need to take precautions and have your wits about you when you’re making purchases, especially when it’s with larger sums of money.

To stay safe shopping online, you should follow some steps before and during your time browsing the web. This way, you’re less likely to stumble across a fake brand or let your confidential information fall into the wrong hands.

Safe shopping online: Tips and what to do

Unfortunately, Christmas is a hacker’s paradise. So you must stay alert, to ensure you don’t fall victim to phishing scams that appear oh-so realistic. To make sure you’re in the safest position possible, you’ll need to be aware of the practices and be mindful of things to watch out for when you’re merrily searching the web.

Here are some of the best safe shopping online tips to follow:

Ensure the retailer you’re buying from is legitimate

To do this, look up their correct website address. Avoid simply clicking on the first web result that comes up after Googling the company brand name. Also, ensure there are no HTML hiccups present, such as the web address of: gam-e1.com rather than game.co.uk. These are small, tell-tale signs that an imposter company is posing as the real thing.

Only use safe online shopping websites

If you’re thinking of buying a large number of gifts from a retailer you’ve never shopped with before, we’d recommend you do your research before you head to the payment gateway.

In order to stay safe shopping online, you should always review a company before you purchase any items from them. You can do this pretty easily by looking at what other consumers are saying about them, on the likes of Trustpilot and Google Reviews. This vetting process will give you an insight into their legitimacy and whether they are a trustworthy company to buy from.

Always keep your virus protection and software up-to-date

This helpful software detects unusual activity and prevents malware, or any nasty bugs from being downloaded onto your computer/laptop from online websites. So if you don’t already have virus protection, make this a priority before placing any orders online.

Use a credit card rather than a debit card to make your payments

Even if your debit card and credit card have the same amount of money on them, we’d recommend using the latter to make payments this Christmas. A credit card adds an extra layer of protection to any purchases you make because your money and transactions are more likely to be covered by consumer protections.

Use protected payment gateways

As well as prioritising your credit card to guarantee safe shopping, online payment gateways provide extra protection against risky purchases. For this reason, it’s well worth using them. The likes of PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay are great ways to make secure transactions because they are third party payment systems. This means you’re keeping your data safe, as you won’t be giving the merchant your direct payment details at any time.

Always use a private wifi, not a public one

It may seem like a good idea to use McDonald’s’ free wifi to buy your loved ones some special presents this Christmas, but sadly it’s not. To ensure you’re always safe, online shopping should be approached with caution if you’re using a public domain.

In fact, you should always avoid using any public wifi connections when making purchases. After all, doing so means your details are out in the open for more people to review. Instead, wait until you get home to do your online shopping to ensure you’re connected to a private and more secure wifi network.  

Review your payments through online banking

After you’ve made a payment, you still need to check a few things to ensure you’re staying safe online. Shopping transactions can go through very easily, but you need to be conscious about what happens afterwards.

Either make a note of your online order or check your bank statement each time. Often when buying multiple items over a single period, it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve bought and how much you’ve paid. And that means you could easily miss an overpayment or a payment to an external company you didn’t authorise.

So, keep tabs on exactly what websites you’ve spent money on and how much to prevent missing any unauthorised or unsafe payments.

Use your initiative

Trust your gut instinct, because if an unbelievable deal has come up for a new tablet or games console, it’s probably exactly that – too good to be true and, therefore, a scam. Ensure you’ve got your thinking cap on when making purchases this festive season.

Utilise this information to stay safe online

You’ve now learnt how to be safe when shopping online, so it’s time to use these helpful tips to make your purchases as secure as possible this December.

Alternatively, if you’re searching for other ways to browse safely online, visit our blog which is full of insightful articles. You can learn all about how to delete your cookies and broadband history as well as the top tips for spotting and reporting scam emails, and so much more.

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