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There's starting to be a lot of publicity about buying and selling shares online. Should I change to an online broker? Is it safe?

PD, Cambridge

Online share dealing has taken off in America over the past few years, revolutionising the way individual investors buy and sell. In particular, trading costs have dropped dramatically. A similar thing is likely to happen in Europe. Online share dealing is easy, convenient and cheap.

The temptation to trade too often and so eat into your profits through trading charges and stamp duty is the only major problem we see with it.

Nothing we have seen indicates that online share dealing isn't safe, and individual accounts are password-protected and situated behind secure firewalls.

Ask yourself how badly the adverse publicity of a breach of security would hurt a broker or other financial institution.Then reflect on how much effort they are likely to expend to make sure that doesn't happen.

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