Banking or shopping online? Don't let criminals get hold of your money

Close-up of credit card with unlocked padlock on computer keyboard

Over the past few years, we have seen a major shift from real world crime to cybercrimes. The rapid expansion of technology has facilitated new ways for criminals to gain access to your personal information and money in a matter of minutes. Whether you're on your tablet, phone, Mac or laptop, you can be targeted by scams designed to get your money into their pockets.

Nearly three out of four internet users now do some form of banking online. Making it easier for criminals to attack the average user on a daily basis.

Online shopping on PCs, tablets and mobiles has increased in popularity over the past few years. However, while banks and retailers have got better at protecting your private financial information, online criminals have got savvier at stealing it.

So, how do you avoid the criminals and make sure your money is safe? Here are five simple measures you can take to protect your money when banking online or shopping.

1. Make sure your devices are patched and protected.

This is a standard piece of advice we always share, but it's especially crucial for people who rely on their PC, mobile or tablet for their financial transactions. Keep your device updated with the latest system, application and security software. With an updated and protected device, you'll avoid more than 99% of the trouble you might face online.

Don't be deterred from doing software updates because you never notice a difference in the product afterwards. The update is often patching up a security flaw. Until you update, you are susceptible to attack.

2. Go directly to the site

When you're shopping online, it's always best to stick to retailers you know and trust. Go to the site directly and search there. Avoid clicking on links in your email which take you to the store or your bank website as you could end up at a scam site. Just landing on one of these sites could infect your computer. A good internet security product, like TalkTalk's SuperSafe powered by F-Secure , will intervene and stop you visiting such malicious sites.

If your bank contacts you with a problem, go to the site on your own or just pick up the phone and give them a call. Don't click on links in SMS messages or emails, as these could be malicious. Likewise, don't call numbers sent to you (for example, SMS messages which urge you to call your bank's fraud team). Find the number of the genuine website, or you could be dialing a premium rate number owned by the scammers.

3. Look for the "s" in "https:".

Only enter your information in if you see that extra "s" in your URL. It stands for secured and it's an extra layer of protection that keeps your account information private. All reputable companies use this for payment transactions on their websites. You should also look for a padlock along with 'https' (in the browser address bar), which means it is secured and that you're on the domain you are meant to be on.

https screenshot

4. Shop and bank when you're secure.

Only shop when you know you're on a network and a device that's protected. A free wi-fi network may be convenient, but it's also risky for shopping or banking. You don't know who has set the network up or whether it has been hacked. By its very nature, it is open and not secure.

If you use your smartphone or tablet to shop or bank, make sure you have security software on it that includes anti-theft protection that will you allow you to deactivate your device if you lose it. That way, when you lose your phone, you don't lose control of your money.

5. Check your accounts.

Try to limit your online shopping to one credit card and make sure you check that account on a regular basis. Make it a weekly habit to check your account statement and your bank account. Then you'll be ready to contact your institutions as soon as you notice a problem. The longer a criminal has access to your account, the more trouble they can do.

With these few precautions, you can worry less about the safety of your money and more about how you will spend it!

For TalkTalk customers they can benefit from F-Secure award winning security for a big discounted price of only £2 a month. Worth £99 RRP, it protects up to 8 devices and you can share spare security with your family even if they are not with TalkTalk. To get it, log into My Account and download it onto your devices today.