Online payments and staying safe when shopping online
Last updated 17 May 2023
1. Online safety
There are many ways you can protect yourself from online crime.
Choose your passwords carefully. Make sure they're easy to remember but not easy for other people to guess. The most secure passwords are a mix of letters and numbers.
Before you pay for anything, always check you're on a secure website. You'll know because the web address starts with ‘https'. Some web browsers also have a small padlock symbol in the address bar when the site is secure.
Do not send money for anything by direct bank transfer unless you know exactly who you're sending it to and what for.
Some websites include extra security like a text or email to make sure it’s you trying to pay before they’ll take the money.
Keeping track of payments
It's important to keep a record of each transaction. Keep an eye on your bank account, review your bank statements regularly and check up on any suspicious activity.
Look after your devices
Do not leave them unattended in public places and protect them with a PIN or passcode. You should also make sure your devices have antivirus apps.
Software updates will usually include security fixes or features to keep your device secure. Your device might also be able to update automatically so turn this feature on if you can.
Remember to log out of any accounts like email or social media on shared computers before you leave the computer.
If you're doing something like online banking, do not use public Wi-Fi hotspots. Use mobile data (3G, 4G or 5G) instead. You should also make sure not to save personal information on a computer that is not yours.
Do not reveal personal or financial information on social media as anyone might be able to see this. Do not put too much information about yourself into emails.
Spam or scam emails are sent with links to unsafe websites. They can ask you to:
- click a link
- reply to the email
- open an attachment
Be careful with emails, texts or tweets especially if you're not expecting them.
Emails that look like they're from a bank or payment service might ask you to click a link to verify your identity. Your bank will not ask you to do this and so delete the emails straightaway.
Cyber bullying is a growing problem, especially for young people. If you're the victim of cyber bullying you should tell someone. You can also tell the website you're using by sending an email or calling them. Keep any messages you've had, this is evidence. Do not speak to the perpetrator.
If you have autism or a learning disability and you're being bullied visit the Dimensions charity website. Their advisors will be able to tell you what to do.
If you're worried something might be a scam or you've already been scammed, contact Action Fraud.
Other websites where you can get advice
You can find more safety tips on: