These tips are purely from a security standpoint, the threat it poses to your personal budget is a whole other issue ;)
1. Research. If you want to buy something from a less known website, then spend 5 minutes googling them. If they aren’t legitimate then you will quickly find out.
2. Third party sellers. Websites like Amazon and eBay allow third-party users to set up “shops”. If you intend to buy from one then check their rating and what users are saying about them.
3. Secure Payments. Be sure to look for the padlock and https:// in the address bar. These are indicators of a secure webpage, meaning that your details will be transmitted securely. Like this:
4. Payment detail storage. Some websites will ask if you want to store your payment details, others will require you to consciously opt out of having them stored. Whilst it is very convenient to have your payment information stored if you frequently use a website, it does potentially place your details in danger.
5. Payment method. Most websites will require your credit card to make your purchase. But you could also use PayPal or WorldPay. This can provide an extra layer of protection between the world and your actual bank details.
P.S. Just one more thing
As a kind of postscript, be sure to keep an eye on your bank statements. Be on the lookout for small “under the radar” payments or possible overpayments that could indicate that your card has been compromised. If you do notice anything then be sure to report it ASAP to your bank.
Make sure that an online payment fiasco doesn’t ruin your Christmas!