But how do you know who to trust your credit card details to? In that race to find the cheapest deal, where you may be offered both household names and online retailers you’ve never heard of before, how can you be sure that, if someone you don’t know is offering you the best price, they’re safe to buy from?
Here’s your checklist for before you get carried away and start to flash the plastic:
- Make sure your computer is secure and updated with the latest anti-virus software]. Make sure that you have a firewall installed. Do not download free anti-virus software unless you’re totally sure it’s genuine.
- Keep all your passwords and PIN numbers secret and never send them to anyone. Be wary of any emails asking you to update your account information. These could be attempts at identity theft.
- Don’t buy from someone you either don’t know or can’t check out. If you’re tempted to buy from an online retailer you don’t know check them out first. They should be displaying a telephone number on their website and you should get a quick answer by phone or email. Voicemail is not enough. The retailer’s address should be there as well. Ask yourself the question, if it’s not there why are they trying to hide from you?
- Always start on the retailer’s home page, never click through if you’ve made a spelling mistake in the URL and reach a search engine page which then takes you to the site. Go direct.
- Shop from online retailers that show the ISIS logo (Internet Shopping is Safe). This is the accreditation scheme run by IMRG, the leading industry body for global e-retailing.
- Look for online retailers that show customer reviews through an independent link on their home page and let you see what their customers are saying about them.
- Keep a record of everything you order online either by printing copies of all your orders or keeping a special folder for web order emails.
- Use a Credit Card rather than a Debit Card – you have more protection this way if something should go wrong.
Look for the URL to change when you’re about to pay, from http:// to https://. This tells you that the payment connection is secure. Also look for the padlock symbol to appear on your browser.
- Check your payment card statement carefully: you have at least 90 days to report a suspect transaction.
- Don’t let all of this put you off buying online, the web is without a doubt the place to find the best deals, that elusive top ten Christmas toy, your next perfect Little Black Dress. It’s a bit like crossing the road; stop, look and then go when you’re sure – that ‘buying tunnel’ is all too easy to rush down once you’ve found something to fall in love with.