Staying safe online

The Sony / Playstation Network hack is one of the biggest losses of personal data ever, but should this put you off shopping online? If you follow these tips then you don't have to be afraid of keeping your money safe...

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Online retailers do everything they can to keep our personal details safe, but there will always be people out there trying to steal it.

Sony’s Playstation Network and SOE gaming services were hacked last month, and the personal details of 102 million users were taken, including their credit card details.

If you’re concerned about keeping your personal details safe online, here are some quick tips you might find useful.

Credit Cards

Using a credit card if you’re buying something online gives you greater protection than if you used a debit card.

If you make a credit card purchase for anything between the value of £100 and £60,260 the card issuer is jointly liable with the retailer in the event of the goods being faulty, or not arriving.

That’s great for protection on purchases, but if you feel uneasy about handing over your financial details online – what other options do you have?

Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards are a kind of pay-as-you-go debit card which can be useful in these circumstances.

You pre-load the card with cash from your bank account and then you can only spend that set amount. There’s no credit facility to the card, so if some shady character does get hold of the details, the potential damage is limited to the amount on the card.

Gift Vouchers

Many online stores let you pay with gift cards or vouchers which you can buy in high street stores and supermarkets.

The vouchers and gift cards have a code which you enter into your account on these sites. You then get credit to the value of the voucher, whether it’s £10, £20 or £50.

General Tips

Most stores use robust security systems and encrypt your information to make sure your data is kept locked away. But you should always stay vigilant when shopping online.

Make sure that the address of the site you’re on begins with “https” before entering any personal information.

Also, make sure to look out for a small locked padlock icon in your web browser frame. If the padlock is on the actual page, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean the site is safe.

You should only ever buy from trusted companies or, if you're shopping on an auction site, only buy from recommended sellers.

Check that the company has a physical address and a phone number in case you need to contact them.

On your end, you need to make sure your PC or Mac has up to date anti-virus software to protect against Trojans, key-loggers and other nasties.

If you were hacked, your bank would likely be able to reimburse you for the money you lose – but you’ll have a stronger argument if you can show you’ve taken steps to protect yourself.

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