Order for yourself or friends and family on the internet safely from the warmth of your own home, while sipping a mug of hot chocolate or a chilled glass of white Pinot or ...!
So what can you do to guard against ID fraud when shopping online? Check out these tips and you'll hopefully have a safer shopping experience:
1. Firstly, make sure your computer is as protected as it can be. Use up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall, and ensure that you have downloaded the latest patches etc from your operating system provider. You can download the latest fixes and patches from Microsoft or Apple.
2. If you use a wireless network at home, make sure it's secure. Find the instructions (contact the supplier if you can't) and follow them to make sure it's set up so that no one else can access it. You can find out more at the Get Safe Online website.
3. Try to use online retailers that you know and trust - it could be worth spending a little more for the peace of mind. Always make sure the full company details and their contact information is readily displayed, phone them first if you are uncertain. Remember, if something seems too cheap it's probably too good to be true.
4. When carrying out an online payment transaction look for (i) a padlock symbol in your browser window and (ii) the web address should begin https://. If you click on the padlock you should be able to check that the seller is who it says it is and that their certificate is up to date.
5. If you can, use a credit card to make online purchases - you'll be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means that should you spend between £100 and £30k on your card you can claim against your card provider if something goes wrong (such as the item doesn't arrive, is faulty, isn't fit for purpose or it's damaged etc). This is the case even if you've only put down a small deposit with the card, and following the latest House of Lords rulings, covers overseas purchases too.
6. To further your protection, if you have a credit card sign up to the Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode payment methods. These verify your card information (you'll need to set up another password to use them) and add an extra layer of protection.
7. Always type the address of the retailer into the address bar yourself - never click on a link sent in an email.
8. Use a different password for each retailer and make sure it's a "strong" password: i.e. it should be at least 7 characters long, contain a mixture of letters, symbols and number and not contain your name, username or company name. Never use proper words such as children's names, favourite football team etc!
9. Monitor your credit card and bank statements carefully for suspicious transactions.
10. Finally, make sure you shred any documentation bearing any personal details (name, address etc) before throwing away!
Follow these tips and you'll be helping to protect yourself against identity fraud. Happy shopping!