It’s that time of year when we’re all looking for a bargain online. However, shopping online can be a little tricky sometimes and when fraudsters know people are looking for a bargain at Christmas, they’re more likely to be looking for unsuspecting victims.
So here are 12 Top Online Shopping Safety Tips to help protect yourself when shopping online this Christmas (and any other time of the year come to that!).
1. Check your devices.
Make sure that your computer is protected with anti-virus software and that it’s up to date. Also, make sure that you are using the latest versions of your operating system and web browser. It’s also a good idea to have a personal “firewall” installed and turned on.
Also, make sure that every device you use for shopping ‐ like your smartphone and tablet ‐ has the latest anti-virus software, operating systems, programs and apps installed.
2. Shopping online while you’re out.
Never make a purchase over an unsecured WiFi hotspot. It’s far better to use a 3G or 4G data connection than WiFi without a password.
Or better still, do all your online shopping at home.
3. Be security conscious.
When making online payments check that the website is secure.
This is indicated by a padlock icon displayed on the browser page. Also check that the “http” web prefix in the address bar has changed to “https” (the “s” stands for secure).
Do not use the same password on every website you visit. Pick a few passwords and vary them. You should never write your passwords or your personal identification numbers (Pins) down. And NEVER divulge them in response to any unsolicited emails.
4. Check out the company you are buying from.
Make sure the company has an actual geographical address (not just one on the internet), and a landline telephone number and keep a record of these details, especially if the firm is based abroad.
Don’t assume that just because a web address has “uk” in it that it’s based in the UK.
Although shopping from overseas websites is relatively safe, it may be difficult to enforce your contract if things go wrong. Therefore, it’s better to use retailers and services you know about or have been personally recommended to you.
5. Always check the terms and conditions regarding payment, delivery and your cancellation rights.
There should be a list of terms and conditions on every retailer’s website. If you cannot find them, it’s probably better to shop somewhere else.
6. Use a credit card for making your purchases online.
In the event that something goes wrong, the credit card company is jointly liable with the retailer. This covers anything that costs between £100 and £30,000 that you may buy using your credit card.In practice this means that if goods fail to turn up or are faulty you should first try to get your money back from the company from which you made the purchase. However, if you are unsuccessful or the company has gone out of business, you have the right to reclaim your money from your card issuer.
Please note, if you buy something using your card via PayPal or a similar payment system these rules may not apply because your credit card agreement is with PayPal and not the retailer from which you made the purchase. However PayPal do have their own system for disputes and claims.
7. Generally debit cards do not provide the same added security if things go wrong.
Purchasing gifts with your debit card may seem preferable to using a credit card because you don’t have to worry about any nasty APR fees. However, credit card companies tend to provide more protection than banks should your card fall into the wrong hands.
8. Check if your credit card offers an internet guarantee.
This is a valuable extra for internet shoppers. It means you are covered against the cost of fraudulent transactions online. The exact terms and conditions for this guarantee differs between card providers so it’s a good idea to check with your card issuer.
9. Register your cards with “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard SecureCode” to give an extra level of protection.
These services require you to verify an additional password which protects against your card being used by someone else. They also provide you with a code to confirm that the company you are dealing with is known to the credit card company.
10. Keep copies of all the paperwork.
In case of any dispute, you will need to have all the evidence. Therefore, print off any emails you might receive relating to your purchase, such as your order confirmation and delivery date advice.
11. Keep a close eye on things.
If you’re buying a lot online over Christmas, money could be taken from your account without you noticing. Online card statements are usually updated in real time, so just track your balance and if there’s something wrong, call your bank straight away.
12. Stay Alert
While you are shopping online, if someone calls you claiming to be from your bank then remember that your bank will NEVER ask you to transfer money to another account to prevent fraud on your account. Neither will they ask you for your credit card details or ask you to hand over your credit cards.
By following this advice you should have a great online shopping experience without any hassle or nasty new year surprises.
We wish you a Happy Christmas from all of us at GoCreditReport.co.uk