How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Online Fraud

According to the Office of National Statistics, cases of online fraud have been increasing steadily for a number of years and of the 38 million adults who currently have internet access, 26% have been the victim of online fraud on at least one occasion. These are just the UK figures - the problem on a worldwide scale is far greater.
There are ways to lessen the risk of becoming another statistic and it is essential to keep up with current guidelines in this respect. There are four main areas to consider: computer and internet security, choosing retailers, payment methods and credit monitoring.

Computer and Internet Security

There are a number of ways to ensure that a computer and internet connection are as safe from threats as possible. Using the most current operating system, web browser and anti-virus software is a must, as is installing updates as soon as they become available.
Do not store personal or financial information on a computer that is used for internet access and create 'strong' passwords by using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

Choosing a Retailer

Selecting a retailer with a good reputation is always the best option. At the very least, make sure that the company you are buying from is displaying its address and telephone number.
Before buying anything, always check the retailer's privacy policy. It is important to know exactly how they will be using any personal or card information that is given to them while making a purchase.

Never use a website that does not offer secure methods of payment. A secure site will have https:// before the web address and should display a yellow padlock icon on the payment page.

Payment Methods

The safest way of making a payment online is using a service such as PayPal. They are very quick and simple to use and preclude the need to divulge credit- or debit-card details to individual retailers.
Payments which are made using a credit card usually have some form of protection from online fraud backed by the card provider. Terms and conditions may vary according to the issuer of the card, so always check these first.

Credit Monitoring

Using a reputable company to regularly check your credit record is a good idea, especially for those who bank and shop online a lot. Not only will the credit reports show your current financial status, they will also highlight suspicious or unexpected transactions.

The internet has made a huge difference to the way people shop in the UK and nobody can deny the pure convenience factor of shopping online. As with any other area of life, there are unscrupulous people and businesses on the web. By taking the necessary precautions, such as monitoring your credit reports, choosing who to buy from carefully and keeping your computer up to date, you can shop safely.

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