Online Shopping | Staying Safe From Online Shopping Scams

staying safe from online scams

With the Christmas period fast approaching, many of us will we looking to take advantage of the sales and offers available on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and more. And with online purchases rising in popularity, so are the risks. Here are some tips on how to stay safe when shopping online.

What is an online purchase scam?

If you come across a great deal online it can be difficult to resist, however it is important to always remember that remaining vigilant is the best way to protect yourself from scammers. As great as the variety of choices the internet gives us access to is, it can also be used as a platform to scam unsuspecting shoppers.  

Fake websites are one of the most common methods used to offer goods and services which the scammer has no intention of supplying. However, an online shopping scam doesn’t just mean paying for an item that doesn’t arrive, it can also include paying for an item to believe is legitimate, only to be given a counterfeit, which the in the case of electronics and dietary supplements can be incredibly risky. 

How can i spot a fake website? 

It is crucial to take a good look at the website before committing to a purchase. Ask yourself,  How did you access the website? Did you click a link in an unsolicited email, online ad, or text message? Did you know that by clicking such links you may be unintentionally providing scammers with your personal and financial information? This can be done through something as simple as a login or registration process.

How can i tell if a website is secure?

Only ever put your card details in to secure sites. Here are a few ways to ensure the site you are visiting is secure.

  • Padlock symbol- There should be a padlock in the address bar next to the website address.
  • Website address- this should start with https:// The S stands for secure.
  • Green address bar- On certain browsers and website the address bar will turn green.
  • Valid certificate- if you click the padlock symbol or to the left of the address bar, there should be information on the site certificate. This should tell you who has registered the site. If you get a warning about a certificate, avoid the website.

Please note that this only means that the site is secure and not necessarily that the seller is honest

Buying from a website 

If you are purchasing from a website there should be an option to be able to pay by debit/credit card. If the website requires you to pay by bank transfer, take a second to think about the transaction. Only a handful of genuine websites will request a bank transfer, not only does this method offer very little security it also makes it difficult for your bank to retrieve your money should something go wrong. 

Please note: purchase scams are not only restricted to retail goods they can also occur elsewhere.

What about their reviews?

Don’t immediately assume just because a seller or item has positive reviews that this makes it genuine.

Sadly, there is a whole market out there for fabricated reviews to fool unsuspecting buyers who believe they are getting a great deal. It is best to take a look around, although it may take a little longer it’s better to be safe than sorry, remember if it sounds too good to be true, chances are, it probably is!

Learn more about your consumer rights here

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