Christmas is the season of goodwill, a time for eating, relaxing and for most people, not working.

Unfortunately, fraudsters don’t take a break, so whether you’re shopping, posting on social media, checking emails or setting up accounts on those new gadget gifts, take steps to protect your identity and avoid fraud.

[Read more: 10 ways BT’s free software keeps you safe online]

Increasing numbers of us are doing our shopping online, but while online shopping is convenient it does carry a higher risk of identity theft.  This is when your account details are fraudulently used to buy goods. As well as causing financial loss, identity theft can affect your credit rating, impacting on your ability to buy goods and causing stress and upset. Protect yourself online by following the tips below.

Tip 1: Use free online protection: BT has teamed up with the best security experts in the world to bring free products for broadband customers to help you stay safe online this holiday season.

  • BT Web Protect warns you if you are about to visit a known harmful website, so you can avoid viruses, scams and phishing attacks. It works whenever you are connected to your BT Smart Hub or using a BT Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • BT Virus Protect is free anti-virus software developed in conjunction with McAfee that protects up to 15 of your devices, including PCs, Macs, Android phones and tablets against viruses, spyware and will warn you against email scams.

Find out more about BT Web Protect, BT Virus Protect and your other BT Extras

Picture of weak and strong passwords on paper

Tip 2: Use a strong password: Make sure you choose a separate password for your email. Get tips on choosing a password.

If you struggle to remember passwords for all your accounts a password manager can help. BT Broadband customers can use True Key, which generates and securely stores up to 2000 passwords for your accounts and apps, so you only need to remember one Master Password.

True Key works across PCs, smartphones, tablets and computers, information is synced across all devices, so you can access your password info whatever device you are using. BT Broadband customers get five licences, each worth £20.

Find out more about True Key

Tip 3: Be careful where you shop: Shop from retailers you trust and look for signs that a site is encrypted – such as a padlock icon- before entering credit card details.

Tip 4:  Check your bank account regularly: With online banking and apps, it’s easier than ever to keep track of your expenditure. Make sure you’ve got the correct contact information – that way your bank can get in touch with you if necessary.

Tip 5: Look out for holiday scams: Keep an eye out for emails or texts messages requesting personal information – they could be scams. Criminals actively target people at this time of year: here are some Amazon scams you need to watch out for.

Padlock around credit card

Tip 6: Register for CIFAS: If you think you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud you can place an alert on your credit report with CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service. Its Protective Registration service flags your information in the National Fraud Database. Companies that are signed to the database will see you are at risk and take extra steps to protect you, including making extra checks on new credit applications.

Check out BT.com/scams for advice on protecting yourself from fraudsters.

Tip 7: Don’t overshare on Social Media: This tip is slightly different to the ones above, but well worth being aware of. If you are going away this Christmas, be careful what you document on Facebook or Twitter. Yes, it’s nice letting your friends share in your excitement and see your holiday photos, but if your account isn’t private, you’ve just let total strangers know that you are away and your house is empty.

Read more: How to set up Facebook privacy settings