We're gradually moving from a world where we went to banks, bought in shops and carried cash to a digital first economy. Now, we're as likely to check our bank balance on our mobile phone as we are a cash machine, and over Christmas, shops such as Argos and John Lewis saw as many sales online as on the high street.
The personal benefits of spending and managing money online are clear. For me, it means I'm not restricted by nine to five opening hours. I can shop around for the best prices without leaving my home, and heavy deliveries can be bought to my door, often for free.
But there's also another side to the convenience. I'm lucky enough to have not fallen victim to online fraud, but I've seen how easy it can be if you're not careful.
To mark Safer Internet Day, here are some essentials you can follow to make sure your money is protected when banking and shopping online.
16 ways to be safe when shopping and banking online
These three questions are a great basis to start ensuring your money is safe online.
Is the website safe?
- Avoid buying from companies you don't recognise
- Check customer reviews if you've not used the shop before
- Make sure you've typed in the right address
- Look for a closed padlock and a web address beginning with HTTPS rather than HTTP
- Avoid unsecured public Wi-fi
Are your payments protected?
- Consider using a separate bank or credit card solely for online purchases
- Use a credit card for purchases over £100 for extra protection
- Consider Paypal and other digital wallets to avoid giving your banking details
- Keep your receipts
- Check amounts on bank statements to be sure you've be charged the right amount
Is your account secure?
- Don't use a password you've used elsewhere, particularly for online banking
- Don't allow your computer to remember any login details
- Don't share your login details with anyone
- Never log in via a link emailed to you, always type the address or go via the banks main website
- Only download official bank apps
- Have a password on your computer and phone to stop other people using it
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.