As we head into the final shopping hurdle before Christmas, chances are you’ll be looking to do a lot of your shopping online.
Wrexham’s Trading Standards team is advising shoppers to keep any eye on some basic online safety checks when buying goods or presents online – and the vast majority of them take just a few seconds to carry out.
Research from National Trading Standards shows more than two thirds of shoppers leave out key safety checks when shopping online – leaving themselves at risk of fraud.
And nobody wants to put themselves at risk of losing money just before Christmas.
Some basic checks to keep yourself safe
If buying products from an online seller, there are a few basic things you can do to keep yourself safe from fraud.
- Don’t be taken in by promotion or discount offers shared on social media – these can look inviting, but often link to “copycat” websites so fraudsters can steal your details.
- Look for reviews of the product or retailer/seller – and ask yourself whether or not they look genuine.
- Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the website? If so, that could be a hint that the business is not professionally run.
- Make sure the website has an encrypted address – this’ll show up if there’s a padlock symbol in the taskbar (where you type in the address), or if there’s an “s” at the end of the “http” part of the address. If so, this means that the website is using an encrypted system, which keeps your details secure.
- Does the company have a landline number you can call if you have any problems?
- Read the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English.
- Don’t be tricked by an impossible bargain – if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Keep in mind that fraudsters exploit high demand – if shops run out of things like toys and games, crooks will step in and sell poor quality or imitation versions.
- Don’t panic buy – just make a few common-sense checks like those above and make sure you’re not handing your details over to a criminal.
Lots of on line retailers are far busier than usual because of Covid and quite a few have struggled to meet demand resulting in delays and mistakes and significant difficulty in getting a positive response.
Check on line reviews of web traders, especially if you have not used them before and they are not familiar to you.
Shop early to avoid chance of failure to deliver on time and give yourself time to respond if good don’t arrive or are unsatisfactory.
Where goods cost more than £100 using a credit card can give you extra protection in the event that things go wrong or, check what protection your bank can provide where you pay with a debit card.
If you think that any online or face-to-face seller is selling potentially dangerous goods, or that something you have purchased is making you feel suspicious, tell Citizens Advice by calling the Helpline to Users on 03454 04 05 06.
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