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4 tips to stay safe online this Christmas and beyond

November through to January is a peak time for online shopping with Black Friday, Christmas and the Boxing Day sales all following in quick succession. Unfortunately, it’s also a busy time for cybercriminals who take advantage of the festive period.

However, there are lots of common sense things you can do to look after yourself online as you buy gifts for loved ones or just treat yourself. Our Head of Information Security, Jonathan Binns, and his team have outlined 4 ways you can protect yourself online:

Be wary of “problem” emails

It’s Christmas, and it’s fairly likely you’ll have several deliveries coming, so your inbox is full of shipping notifications and order confirmations. Cybercriminals know this too, so email phishing campaigns tend to increase at this time of year. And a lot of the time, these tend to be fake emails “alerting” you to a problem with your order.

Check out our blog for our tips on spotting fake emails. If you are at all suspicious of an email, don’t click the links. Instead, go directly to the site you ordered from and check your order status there.

Do your research on that great deal from a new online store

Be cautious when ordering from new online retailers. Criminals have got very good at creating fake sites to take your money and deliver nothing. Check the retailer out by searching for their name or their web address in a search engine, run it through Urlvoid, or review sites like Trustpilot.

Think about using a credit card for online shopping

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act provides you with some additional protection if you are spending between £100 and £30,000 in the event that something goes wrong with the retailer. Check out MoneySuperMarket for more information on this.

Make a list and check it twice, especially for additional charges

Keep a list of all of your orders and check it against your credit and bank statements for transactions you don’t recognise or amounts that are higher than you expect. Another popular scam is to offer a great deal on an item but hide very expensive delivery charges in the last step of checkout.

And if you think your details have been compromised, let your bank know straight away and change all of your online passwords.

Jonathan Binns is Head of Information Security at Zopa