Using your credit card online

Learn how to keep yourself safe when using your credit card to buy things online, by asking yourself these questions.

Who am I buying from?

Make sure you know who you’re giving your sensitive information to.

  • Shopping online is really handy, and you can find great deals, but it’s best to purchase from companies you’ve heard of and which have an established reputation.

     

    Buying from online shops

    Never give personal or card information to a company you don’t recognise, or haven’t done a little research on first. Be wary if you see:

    • Spelling mistakes – scam websites can look very convincing, but content might be poorly written or contain errors – some could even be intentional, e.g. using ‘Halifex’ instead of ‘Halifax’.
    • Odd design features – colours, logos and pictures on scam websites might not exactly match the real deal you’re used to seeing.
    • Incredible deals – you can find good deals on the internet, but if something seems too good to be true compared to other sellers, it could be a scam, or the items might be counterfeit.
    • Unusual payment options – scam websites might ask for bank transfer payments, which are harder to trace, rather than debit or credit card payments.
    • Pressure selling – scam websites might include a strong sense of urgency, claiming that deals are only available for a short time, or that items are low in stock.

    Here are a few things you can check easily when visiting a website:

    • Look for a closed padlock image next to the website address – this tells you that the page is secure, although that doesn’t mean it’s genuine. Click the padlock to view website information and its certificate.
    • Check the website address – scam websites might use an address that’s similar to the genuine site, so look for small spelling differences, symbols and of less common domain names, like ‘.net’ rather than ‘.com’. In ‘https’, the ‘s’ tells you that you’re on a secure site – look for this before you enter any sensitive information.
    • Hidden addresses – hover your curser over a link to see the target page address. Does it look genuine? If not, it could link to a scam website, or expose you to a virus when you click.

    Always take your time and make some checks before you make any online purchases. It’s a good idea to make sure that there’s a contact address and phone number on a website, just in case you need to get in touch with a company later on.

     

    Buying from an individual online

    A lot of the points above also apply to purchasing from individuals, whether that’s on social media or a trading website, but there are a few specific things to consider:

    • Ask the seller questions – if they can’t answer, or try to hurry you into a sale, walk away.
    • Requesting payments in advance – don’t pay for items until you collect them. This should give you an opportunity to check things over first, and means there’s less chance you won’t get what you’re paying for.
    • Collect with a friend – don’t go alone if you’re meeting a seller in person.

    Be especially careful when you buy from a private seller. If something goes wrong, your legal rights might not be the same as when you are dealing with an official business.

     

    Sellers on social media

    Again, most of the points above apply to staying safe on social media. Be wary of deals which seem too good to be true, any links you click and what information you share. The more information a fraudster has, the easier it is for them to steal your identity and money.

    Check online reviews
    Hearing about the experiences of other customers might help you to make up your own mind about a company you’re planning to purchase with. However, it’s useful to know that not all reviews are authentic or typical, so you need to use your own instinct too.

    Check where a company is based
    If you’re buying from a company based in Europe, you might still be protected by your consumer rights under UK law, regardless of the local laws which may apply to any contract of sale.

    If something goes wrong when buying from a company based outside of Europe, it might be more difficult or expensive to resolve things.

    Want to know more about scams?
    You’ll find lots of information online, but we list some of the latest scams on our website. Seeing examples could help you to spot scams out there in the real world.

Is my information secure?

There are things you can do to keep yourself safe when shopping online.

  • By staying alert, you can prevent your information getting into the wrong hands. You might find the following tips helpful:
     

    Protect your computer and devices

    • Use anti-virus software on any devices you use to browse and shop online. This should help you to spot harmful websites, links and files. Just make sure you keep your software up to date, and remember to scan your system for viruses at least once every week.
    • Keep your firewall switched on. This software is common to all computers and devices, working to prevent harmful websites from accessing sensitive information.
    • Keep all software up-to-date, so you can take advantage of new security features. Upgrade the operating system of your computer or device, internet browser, and other software or apps as soon as updates are released.
    • Use strong passwords for your computer, devices and any accounts you hold. Use a mix of letters and numbers, avoiding anything which might be easy to guess. Use different passwords for each website and never tell them to anyone.
       

    When using a mobile device

    • Protect devices with a PIN or password. Most have an auto-lock feature you can switch on, which locks your device when it’s been inactive for a while.
    • Connect securely using private wi-fi you know and can trust, or 3G/4G/5G which features encryption software. Public wi-fi used by lots of people, in coffee shops for example, might not be secure, even if it’s password protected.
    • Be careful when using Bluetooth. Other people may be able to see and access your information, so only use Bluetooth when you really need to.
    • Can others see your screen? If you’re using a device in public, just make sure any sensitive information isn’t on show, and you mask the screen when entering passwords.
       

    Is the website you’ve visited safe?

    • Look for a closed padlock image next to the website address – this tells you that the page is secure, although that doesn’t mean it’s genuine. Click the padlock to view website information and its certificate.
    • Check the website address – scam websites might use an address that’s similar to the genuine site, so look for small spelling differences, symbols and of less common domain names, like ‘.net’ rather than ‘.com’. In ‘https’, the ‘s’ tells you that you’re on a secure site – look for this before you enter any sensitive information.
    • Hidden addresses – hover your curser over a link to see the target page address. Does it look genuine? If not, it could link to a scam website, or expose you to a virus when you click.
       

    Ready to make a purchase?

    • Your credit card offers additional protection on purchases, which could help if something goes wrong. Read about Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
    • You’ll never be asked to provide your card PIN when making a purchase online.
    • You might need to complete extra security checks for some online purchases. This is something all banks and lenders are doing, both to make sure transactions are genuine, and to keep you protected online.
    • If you’re out and about, make sure no-one can see you screen, or sensitive information like your card details.
    • Services like Online Banking or the Mobile Banking app make it easy to keep track of your spending, giving you access to statements and a list of recent transactions. It’s important you get in touch if you spot any activity on your account that you don’t recognise.

    How to identify transactions

     

    Learn more about fraud

    If you’d like to know more about keeping your card and personal details safe, you might like to read our guides on protecting yourself from fraud, including information about the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign from Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA).

    We also list some of the latest scams on our website. By seeing real examples, it could help you to identify and avoid falling for scams.

Do fees or charges apply?

Any costs or restrictions should be made clear, but check the small print.

  • Before you make a purchase online, it’s important to understand any costs, stock availability and when you can expect to receive an item or service.
     

    Check for extra charges

    Some costs might not be included in the price you’re shown online, such as VAT, delivery, packaging and customs duties if the seller is outside the UK. Make sure you read through all of the small print carefully. If you’re not sure about all of the charges, don’t go ahead with a purchase.
     

    Read the delivery, return or cancellation policies

    Each retailer and service provider will have their own policies for delivery, returns and cancellations, so make sure you read through those details before you buy.

    Delivery – make sure you’re aware of all costs, and how soon goods or services will be delivered.

    Returns and cancellations – are there any restrictions you need to know about? It’s useful to know that if you order an item from outside the UK, it could be more complicated or expensive to return it.

    Most websites have information pages or frequently asked questions you can check, but if you’re not completely sure, you could contact the retailer or service provider.
     

    Check that items are in stock

    Be especially careful if an item is currently unavailable but ‘due soon’. Estimates can be unreliable, so you could find yourself waiting a long time, or chasing a refund when orders can’t be fulfilled.

    Some websites offer a ‘stock alert’ service instead, so you’ll receive an email or text message when an item is available again.

What if things go wrong?

Credit cards offer protection on purchases, just in case there’s a problem.

  • In most cases, shopping online is convenient and quick, but if something goes wrong, it’s handy to know what to do.
     

    Keep a record of online transactions

    It’s a good idea to print off pages or take screenshots, especially for larger online purchases. That way you’ll have the order details ready if there’s a problem later on. Websites can be updated very regularly. It could be useful to have proof from the time you made your purchase.

    Most companies will also send you an order confirmation by text message or email, which you should also keep hold of, at least until items or services are delivered.
     

    Check receipts against your statement

    It’s useful to know that some companies trade under different names, so double check any transactions you’re unsure of.

    How to identify transactions

    If you spot something you don’t recognise

    It’s important that you get in touch if you suspect your card has been used without your knowledge, or you think someone knows your Online Banking sign in details.

    Contact us about fraud

    If there’s a problem with a transaction

    You should try to resolve things with the retailer or service provider first. Just be careful if you communicate by email. Emails aren’t encrypted, so you shouldn’t include any personal or card details you wouldn’t want anyone else to see or use.

    If you can’t resolve things yourself, we might be able to help. You’ll find useful information on our credit card payment disputes page.

    Most credit card purchases of over £100 and up to £30,000 are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which means you could claim a refund if something you’ve paid for is faulty, doesn’t arrive or isn’t as described.

How lenders protect you
 

Fraud monitoring

Most financial service providers use 24-hour fraud monitoring services. You’ll be contacted if anything out of the ordinary is spotted.

If you can’t be reached, a temporary block could be placed on your account to keep it safe while investigations are carried out.

Extra protection

You might be automatically registered for Visa Secure®, Mastercard® Identity Check or American Express® SafeKey. Each provides an extra layer of fraud protection.

We provide this under the name Halifax Secure.

Extra security checks

You might be asked to enter a password, a one-time passcode (usually provided by text message or over the phone), or to use an app to confirm some transactions and online activities.

Strong Customer Authentication has been in use by all UK banks since September 2019.

Zero liability guarantees

Mastercard, Visa and American Express provide zero liability guarantees which cover you against fraudulent credit card use, excluding cash advances.

The only condition is that you must contact your credit card provider straight away if you spot anything unusual, or your credit card is missing.

Secure device payments

You can add your credit card details to compatible devices, ready to make secure payments online, and contactless payments in shops.

These services make the most of the security features of your devices and, unlike using your card itself, your information is always encrypted to keep it secure.

More on mobile payments

Think you’ve been a victim of fraud?

If your Halifax credit card has been used without your knowledge, or someone knows your Online Banking sign in details, it’s important to get in touch right away.

Contact us about fraud

A summary on using credit cards online

Make sure you’re only give your information to a company you recognise, or have checked out first.

 

  • Look for the padlock symbol next to the website address, ‘https’ at the start of the address and that everything looks, reads and feels as it should.
  • Keep your computer or device software up to date, use anti-virus software, switch your firewall on and only connect to secure wi-fi or 3G/4G/5G.
  • Keep a record of all transactions and check them against your monthly statements. Keep track using services like Online Banking or the Mobile Banking app.
  • If you spot a transaction you don’t recognise, contact your card provider straight away. Also, if there’s a problem with a purchase and you can’t resolve it, your card provider could help.

Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.