This year, with more people shopping online for Christmas gifts, groceries, and goodies – it is more important than ever to be thinking about shopping safely – even when it’s from the comfort of your own home.
We’ve been speaking with Take Five, a national campaign led by UK Finance that encourages people to take that extra few moments before making a purchase to stop, challenge, and protect yourself from preventable financial fraud. They are encouraging everyone, especially this year, to take extra care when shopping online. They have a wealth of information to read about some of the examples of what can go wrong for consumers when it comes to scams and fraud.
With today being Black Friday, here is a reminder of some top tips to remember when shopping online – not just this festive season, but all-year round:
- Do some homework!
If you are shopping from an online retailer or auction site that you’ve not ordered from before, it’s worth researching the website and the seller you are considering buying from. There are thousands of sites out there and the majority are legitimate but unfortunately there are people out there trying to take advantage of the busy shopping season, so spotting fraudulent sites is something to be aware of. If you’re not sure, do some quick research on online – it’s helpful to look at reviews like TrustPilot and talk to family and friends to see if they’ve used the site before. It’s also good to check up-front what the returns policy is, so you know what your rights are.
- Make sure the websites you are shopping on are secure
The main thing to look out for is the web address starting with https://. The ‘S’ stands for secure and there should be a padlock in the address bar next to the web address if the site is secure. You can click on the symbol and you should be able to see the certification of that site. If you get a warning message, it might be worth trying a different site. Some browsers also turn the address bar green to show that they are secure. It’s always a good idea to access the website you’re purchasing from by typing it into your web browser and be wary of clicking on links in unsolicited emails.
- Consider whether your device is also secured
It’s really important to make sure you are using the most up to date software as these software updates are often to help protect you and your device and eliminate bugs. It’s also important that you have an up to date anti-virus protection programme uploaded and we always advise choosing a strong password for all of your online accounts. You can use a password creator but at the very least, make sure you are using a mix of capital and lower-case letters, as well as special characters.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi
Try to avoid using public Wi-Fi as it is often unsecured. This means that any information you send while connected could be accessed by unwanted third parties. It’s likely that your standard data connection on your phone is more secure. You should always avoid sending personal information such as your date of birth or address, coupled with any internet banking information, when you are on a public Wi-Fi network.
- Don’t get sucked in!
Be aware – if a deal looks too good to be true – it probably is. For example, if you see the latest smartphone for sale at £200 when you know it’s selling for over £1,000 elsewhere, then it’s probably not a legitimate item. Double check you aren’t being tricked into a phantom purchase. Read more about purchase scams on the Take Five website here.
Shopping with PayPal is quick, easy, hassle-free and secure – meaning that scammers and unwanted third parties can’t get hold of your financial information such as your card or bank account details. Once you have set up a PayPal account, you only have to pay with your email address and password. It’s not only more convenient, but also much safer – as personal financial data stays with PayPal rather than being exposed online. Plus, if anything goes amiss with your order – we’ll give you extra support through our Buyer Protection programme. Read more about our protection policies on our website here.
Don’t get caught out – we encourage you to follow our security tips and read up more on Take Five before making a purchase to stay protected online this festive season.