The PSN hacker scandal is just the latest in an increasingly worrying trend in online hacking and credit card fraud, as more and more elaborate and complex scams trick and defraud customers out of their hard-earned wages.
As consumers wise up to the benefits of online shopping, in terms of best prices, availability and easy of purchase and delivery, the spotlight on security is ever stronger.
Happily, there are several common sense steps that customers can take in safeguarding their online data and card details from thieves and hackers. Firstly, make sure you have a reputable credit card with a strong customer safety guarantee should the worst happen.
Use the big providers and read the small print on your contract. Online comparison sites such as Moneysupermarket can be useful for researching which credit cards are available.
Get yourself protected with adequate insurance. Some card providers and financial institutions now offer fraud and identity protection covers. Check the clauses of your card to see what you are responsible for and whether there are opt-ins to increase your protection.
Understand your legal rights as a consumer and get educated on where your responsibilities begin and end with the threat of online hacking and data theft.
Only shop on reputable websites with strong security certificates and encrypted payment purchase points. Read up on their data security credentials and look for accreditations and recognised schemes. Do not answer emails which seem unusual or offer unlikely incentives.
There are a large number of scams purporting to be from well known banking and financial institutions. A bank will never send you a link to click on, from an unbranded or poorly worded email account. Check for validity and notify your bank if you are concerned.
Genuine actions will require you to follow the usual identification routes, whether for online, face to face, or telephone banking. Follow these routes to access your account to check if genuine action is required.
Upgrade your PC security with a good security and anti-hacking or theft protection package. Some of these are free, others are paid for. Ultimately, a good security protective software system will bring you peace of mind and avoid costly rip-offs.
Some banks and credit card providers now offer similar online security checks and software for greater protection, for example second stage password authentication for online purchases.
Keep informed and updated on latest scams and cons - information is the key here. Keep your eye in the news and read legitimate warning messages.
Never open emails or files with unchecked attachments - again, get virus scanning software, to avoid malware being installed on your PC.
Finally, make purchases on a credit card where possible online, as these can offer additional protections to regular debit cards, for a range of scenarios.
Practice good data management too - shred old letters and documents, destroy old check books and cards, choose complex pins and don't ever share confidential details with anyone.
This article was written by Sam, a financial writer based in the UK.