Shopping on the internet, as well as using online payments for utility bills and other services, saves a considerable amount of time and hassle. However, as with all online activities, there is a certain degree of risk.
Not only is there the possiblity of buying from a fraudulent seller who doesn't send the goods or sends goods that don't match the original description, there's also the chance that they can use the personal financial details you've given them for criminal activities.
Even when shopping with well-known brands, it's important to ensure that you're on the genuine site and not a fraudulent site that's designed to look like a recognised brand.
Most of the tips below may be second nature to web-savvy buyers, but for fledgling online shoppers, this is essential advice. Check out our top tips on how to stay safe when shopping online:
- Always make sure that the web address of the site you're shopping on starts with 'https://' - the s indicates that the page is secure
There should always be a tiny padlock icon in the browser bar (not on the page itself)
- Using a credit card should offer more protection in case of fraud, making it easier to get your money back if you get scammed
- Before ordering from an unknown site, search for online reviews of the site you're buying from and check to see if they have a phone number and physical address in case of any problems
- Read through the terms and conditions, returns policy and postage costs to make sure you know what the deal is
- Create secure passwords for sites that you're buying from - check out our guide on How to make an unbreakable password
- Keep receipts along with any confirmation or order numbers
- Check bank and credit card statements to ensure that the correct amounts have been taken and that no unexepcted transactions have taken place
- Make sure that you have sufficient antivirus software/a firewell on your home computer before buying anything online
- Trust your instincts - if the site doesn't look or feel right, delete any personal information you've inputted and leave the site
- If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.