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Five simple ways to check your payment info is secure

As we spend more time online, most of us know that we're leaving data trails everywhere we go. Sometimes we don't mind, like when a targeted ad alerts you to a half-price deal on that tablet you've been looking at, or when Netflix recommends your next favourite film. But most of us are less willing to share when it comes to financial information.

Business solutions firm Worldpay found that 46% of UK consumers feel uncomfortable storing their payment details with retailers. That's not surprising when you consider that 51% of Brits have already been victims of cybercrime. So before you enter those digits, make sure you know that the site is trustworthy and safe.

1. Use secure servers

Websites with secure servers use software like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt your information, protecting it from unauthorised access. A retailer with an SSL certificate will have a web address beginning 'https', rather than 'http'. The URL bar may also turn green or contain a small padlock symbol so you know you're protected.

2. Check for authentication

Many sites seek independent verification to reassure consumers that they're trustworthy. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprofit organisation that monitors companies to make sure they're up to scratch, while firms like TRUSTe provide products and services that keep data safe. Check retail sites for these companies' logos, which will usually be in a prominent place on the homepage or payment page. 

3. Read the Ts&Cs

Instead of accepting the terms and conditions without reading them, take the time to check the company's privacy section. Make sure it's committed to protecting your data, and find out about the encryption technology it uses. Remember, the more bits the better – for example, 128-bit encryption is better than 64-bit.

4. Do background checks

If you're using a site you've never bought from before, use Norton Safe Web or ScamAdviser to check whether it's been hacked or linked to scams in the past. You can also use government sources to find out whether an institution is legitimate, like Companies House and the FCA register in the UK.

5. Run antivirus scans

As well as providing firewall and virus protection, most antivirus software scans the websites you visit in real-time, blocking them if they're unsafe. Update it regularly for maximum protection.

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