10 ways to shop online safely this Christmas70 per cent of Brits will shop online at Christmas

06 December 2010

Christmas presents

Research from Santander shows that over a third of all Christmas spending will be done online this year.   

The research reveals that we'll spend £6.4 billion online with UK retailers and a further £335 million with online retailers based overseas.  The traditional high street will receive just 57 per cent of the total Christmas spend this year. 

Shopping online is convenient and can often be cheaper than hitting the high street.  But make sure you shop safely by following our top ten tips.

Which?'s tips for shopping safely online

  • Ensure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall
  • Use the latest version of your browser.  Set it to the highest security level
  • Navigate to sites by entering the url - don't click on hyperlinks
  • When paying for goods online, look for a locked padlock or unbroken key symbol in the browser window- not on the site.  Check the internet address begins https
  • Buy from familiar, reputable retailers where possible
  • For unknown retailers, check reviews, their address and that they have a landline number you can contact them on
  • Get a credit card just for using online so you can monitor transactions easily
  • Use a combination of numbers and letters for passwords and change them regularly
  • Don't answer unsolicited emails or calls asking for card details
  • Use Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code.  This is extra security set up by card providers.  You'll be asked to set a password which will be asked for when you use your card online

Choosing the best way to pay

Consider too how you're going to pay for your online shopping as you get different levels of protection if things go wrong.

Section 75 protection

Credit cards offer the best protection against a retailer going bust, or against the possibility that the goods you ordered turn up faulty or not as they were described on the website.  Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act makes the card issuer jointly liable with the retailer.  

The protection however only applies to purchases over £100 and up to £30,000.  


For purchases not covered by section 75, you can raise what is known as a 'chargeback'.  This is where you ask your card issuer to refund your account if there's a problem with the goods you ordered.  You can raise a chargeback on debit card purchases and also credit card purchases.  

Unlike section 75 protection which is enshrined in law, chargeback schemes are run at the discretion of the card networks. 

Electronic money accounts

E-money accounts, like Clickandbuy, Google Checkout, Moneybookers, Neteller and PayPal let you pay online without revealing your card or bank details and without having to type in payment details for every purchase. 

A big disadvantage is that the generally accepted view is that you don't get section 75 protection if you pay this way.  PayPal is the only one to offer its own version of section 75. 

You can raise a chargeback request but only where you use your credit or debit card to pay via these services.  You won't be covered if you load up your e-money account using a credit or debit card and then subsequently use the balance in your e-money account to purchase goods from an online retailer. 

Looking for a best buy credit card for your online Christmas shopping?  Check out the Which? Best Rate credit cards guide and our tips on how to pay no interest for a year on your Christmas shopping

pound coins

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