There’s a lot to be said for buying things over the internet. There is almost unlimited choice and variety, so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. You can also shop at any time of the day or night, whenever you feel the need for some retail therapy. Then of course there’s the convenience of having everything delivered direct to your door. That said, however, there are occasionally risks associated with making payments online, and it’s a good idea to bear a few safety precautions in mind.

Of course the vast majority of online transactions take place with no problems at all; you pay for the goods or services you want and you receive them in good condition soon afterwards. Even then, it’s usually possible to return anything you’re not satisfied with or decide you don’t want. In a few cases, however, unscrupulous fraudsters set out to defraud or steal from unsuspecting shoppers. In fact, data released by the Office of National Statistics in 2016 showed that one in ten people in England and Wales had been the victim of so-called cybercrime in the previous year.

That is why it’s important to bear a number of tips in mind when you’re shopping online. If you’re entering your credit card details online, there are a number of things you can check to make sure the link is secure. Firstly, there should be a padlock symbol in the frame of the browser. If the padlock symbol appears on the site itself, this could suggest that the site is fraudulent. Sometimes, you will be asked to pay via a third-party payment service, and it is important to also make sure that these sites are secure before making your purchase. Well-known services such as Worldpay are best, as they are used by many large, reputable retailers such as M&S and HMV.

Many of the tips that apply to shopping via the internet should also be borne in mind when it comes to online gambling, which has seen a massive increase in popularity in recent years. It is now the most popular form of gambling in the UK, with yields of £4.5bn annually, dwarfing revenues from the National Lottery. With so much money at stake, literally, security is important. One of the most prominent pieces of advice here is to choose reputable gambling sites. Another is to look for secure payment sites such as PayPal or Neteller, which are used by well-known sites such as Betway, as well as big-name retailers such as Argos and John Lewis. These e-wallets allow you to make transactions without disclosing your personal or payment details to third parties, and therefore reducing the risk of theft or fraud.

Other quick and simple tips that could save you a lot of money and heartache include using credit cards, which offer greater protection against fraud etc. than other forms of payment. Don’t pay for goods using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, and always log out of a website after making a transaction, rather than just closing the browser. Just a few small changes in your online shopping behaviour could make all the difference, and help ensure that the only person depleting your bank balance is you!