How to cut the risks of shopping online

More and more of us in the UK are doing more and more of our shopping online. This is particularly evident at this time of year with Black Friday, Christmas, and January sales all in rapid succession. 40% of us planned to do most or all of their 2022 Christmas shopping online, and this trend is set to continue in years ahead.

Shopping online is convenient and easy to do, particularly when you need to buy a lot of different things within a short time frame. But on the other hand, there is the issue of security to consider. Is it really safe to keep sharing your financial details online, especially with relatively unknown websites?

In this article we take a look at five steps to take to cut the risks of shopping online:

Protect your devices

The first step you should take to staying safe online is to protect any device you use to shop online. Whether a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or phone keep it secure by following five simple rules:


  • Prevent unauthorised access by keeping it somewhere safe and protected by a password and/or another form of identification;
  • Install all operating system updates as these often contain enhanced security measures;
  • Also update virus protection regularly, and for home computers install a firewall to prevent websites from downloading items onto your computer. 
  • Keep your device well organised and only store what you really need on there;
  • Ensure that everything on your device is backed up somewhere else in case of loss or theft.


Choose passwords that are not easy to guess

You should use passwords both for your devices and also for websites containing any type of financial information. Use different passwords for different sites, so that if a password does fall into the wrong hands most of your information will still be secure. 


For more information about how to choose and manage passwords, take a look at our recent article

Passwords passwords passwords . . . how to remember them all.


Never divulge your passwords to anyone else. Be particularly aware of “phishing” emails which are used by fraudsters to try and get your information. Phishing emails will look like they come from a legitimate company, but usually include a link which instead of going to the company’s website will go to a fake website and then ask you to enter your information. You could then find your account gets hacked, or even be subject to identity theft.

Check a website has https and/or a padlock sign

If you are buying from a website for the first time you can check it is secure by looking to see if it has the prefix “https” and/or a padlock sign in front of the website address. This is particularly important on the checkout page when you may need to enter financial and personal information.  


HTTPS means that information exchanged between your device and the website is encrypted (put into code) whilst being transferred. So even if it were intercepted by a hacker during the transfer process they would not be able to understand it.  

Keep your payment information safe

Many online retailers offer the opportunity to pay for purchases via a third party payment provider such as Paypal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay or Worldpay.  If you do a lot of online shopping, it is a really good idea to create an account with one of these providers. Once you have an account, and the third party provider has your payment information – i.e. your credit or debit card – you will not need to give these details to the retailer. 


So for example if you have a Paypal account and the retailer offers it as a payment option, you will be able to click on the Paypal icon at checkout. You can then either complete the Paypal payment on the shopping website itself or be redirected to the Paypal website to complete the purchase there. You do not need to enter card details at any stage of the process.

Trust your instincts

Last but not least, remain vigilant while shopping online. Always trust your instincts. If there is anything that you’re not happy with or just doesn’t feel right, cancel everything and either do more research on the supplier or look elsewhere altogether. Never take a risk just for the sake of a bargain.

We hope that this article helps you to understand how to cut the risks of shopping online so that you can enjoy the experience without any nasty surprises.

Check back here soon for more financial and