Rule number one in the lazy shopper’s guide to buying – do it online. There are lots of benefits to online shopping – you can stay nice and warm at home, far from the frenzied crowds and you can do it in your pjs (or nothing at all, whatever floats your boat). And at this time of year, who wants to tackle the Christmas crowds if you can avoid it? Of course, there can be downsides, as the one in ten people who have suffered a cyber-attack on their credit or debit card in the last year, can testify to. 

Money, money, money

Our research shows that in 62% of cyber-attack cases, an average of £475was stolen from individual bank accounts, adding up to a staggering £2.1 billion in the last 12 months; it also meant that up to 4.5 million credit or debit cards had to be cancelled. **

Whilst cyber-crime is undoubtedly bad and invasive, we need to help ourselves – a quarter of people admit to having the same password and PIN for all their cards and all their online accounts – tut, tut. As they tell you in Cyber Savvy Class 101 – always, always use different passwords for your online accounts – having one password might make your life easier but it also makes you easy pickings for anyone with less than wholesome intentions.

Staying safe

You wouldn’t leave your cash on a table in a busy coffee shop whilst you nipped to the loo, would you? It’s simply common sense, but it’s surprising how many of us do the online equivalent of just that with our careless online shopping habits.

Internet shopping usually takes place at home, where we feel secure, so perhaps it’s only natural that our defences are down – but here’s how to make sure you can stay safe while shopping online:

  • Use a different password for each of your accounts
  • Look for sites that start ‘https’ the ‘s’ bit means the site is secure
  • Register your cards with Visa or MasterCard SecureCode – it’ll protect your card against unauthorised use
  • Ensure your devices all have up to date operating systems, anti-virus software, anti-spyware and a firewall
  • Encrypt your wi-fi network 
  • Avoid using sensitive data on open internet networks such as in coffee shops
  • Use your nous – if a website looks dodgy then be cautious, check reviews and feedback – trust your gut feeling
  • Use credit cards where you can, under Section 75, of the Consumer Credit Act, any single item between £100 and £30,000 is protected by the credit card company, so if anything goes wrong – you could be covered

If the worst does happen and your card details are stolen, then it’s worth having a spare because it means you won’t be left credit-less while you wait for your replacement to arrive (which you could be very helpful at this time of year). You can also search for one right here if you fancy a new deal.

If you do notice activity on your account that you can’t verify then always contact your bank or building society as soon as you can. Shopping online should be fun, so stay safe and enjoy.

**Research conducted by comparethemarket.com in August 2016. Adult UK population calculated from Office for National Statistics Mid-2015 Population Estimates: Pivot table Analysis Tool for the United Kingdom.