Staying safe when shopping online

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Shopping online can be a great way to save time, find the best products, and take away the stress of a busy high street. However, you may have worries about safety as stories of fraud or scams appear in the news regularly. As long as you follow the tips in this article, you should be able to shop safely online:

  1. Check your website security – Before handing over any bank details check the website is secure. Make sure the web address begins with ‘https://’ as the ‘s’ stands for secure, and check for a small green padlock symbol next to where you type the web address.
  • Check the wi-fi connection is secure – Many cafes, airports or parks may have open wi-fi so you can get an internet connection, but this can also allow people to view your files. Passwords and log-ins for public wi-fi reduce the risk and make the connection more secure. For even greater safety, you may wish to use your password protected wi-fi connection at home when want to buy something online.  
  • Credit cards offer greater protection – Credit cards are a better option for online shopping as you can reclaim the money if nothing is delivered and it is harder to commit fraud with them. If you are buying a holiday or flights this is extra important.
  • Check the returns policy – Under the consumer protection act you can return any product bought online within 14 days so don’t worry if something you bought isn’t right. Have a look at what the specific returns policy is and whether you are happy. Do you have 14 days or longer? Do you need to drop it off at a depot or can you send it back? If you return, is it free postage, or will you have to pay?
  • Always log out – When making an online purchase it is likely that you will have to create an account with the company or shop you’re buying from. It is important to log out once you have made the payment, especially if you are not using your home computer. Closing the internet browser is not enough to ensure your privacy and the next person to use the computer could access your details.
  • Make a password for your mobile phone – When making a purchase on your phone, you will be asked to enter your details online and there will be an option to save your card details. If you lose your phone, you may be worried about your details being out in the open for someone to use. Make sure that your phone is password-protected to avoid these security concerns.
  • Check credit card and bank statements – It is better to keep a watchful eye over your payments and check the right amount has been taken, and also that there is no suspicious purchases. If you are worried, you can always call your bank or go into your local branch.
  • Report fraud – If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. You can call them on 0300 123 20 40. They won’t be able to respond to you directly, but it will flag up that service or website as a case that needs investigating.