What with the cold weather, no one likes to venture far to buy presents for their loved ones over Christmas. It’s much easier to sit at home, laptop in front of you and a cup of tea in your hand, browsing through your favourite shops then clicking ‘next day delivery’.

But it can be less safe; sites with malware (malicious codes that attempt to break your computers privacy) are used by online theives to steal your card details.

Although this sounds like something out of a horror film, there’s no need for you to fear online shopping. By following these simple tips, you can shop online with confidence!

1. Use a site you know!

With the online shopping market constantly growing, it can be easy to begin browsing on unfamiliar sites. Although 9/10 times, you’re likely to be safe, there are some that are set up simply to scam you out of your money. Places like Amazon, Ebay, and online stores of existing retailers (New Look, Topman) are always a safe bet. An easy way of spotting a dodgy site, is by looking at the domain; .co.uk and .com are often safe websites, unlike .net

2. If its too good to be true, it probably is!

An easy way for online thieves to trick you into buying from them (and therefore giving them your details) is to put a deal on their website that looks truly irresistible. See a brand new iPad for £40? Probably a scam. It might seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many people fall for it.

3. Use strong passwords, and make sure they’re different!

You’d be surprised how many people use the same password for all their sites. and it’s never more important than when you’re online shopping or banking to make sure that your password is uncrackable. Using symbols, numbers and capital letters can easily make your password 10 times harder to crack.

4. They don’t need ALL your details.

If a site is asking you for birthday, you job and your cats name, you might want to re-think where you are buying from. Although these may seem like necessary questions (apart from the last one), all it does is make it easier for them to steal your identity.

5. Check your statements!

Rather than waiting for your monthly statement, check your account frequently during the month to ensure there is no unusual activity. Ensure you don’t see any fraudulent charges, or anything a bit suspicious. If something does look a bit out of the ordinary, don’t wait. Immediately call your bank, and have them straighten out the matter quickly.

Stay safe this Christmas, and happy shopping!