Our tips for safer online shopping

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a great time to bag a bargain online. Whether you’re planning to splurge or just browse, bear a few things in mind to help keep yourself safe from fraud. 

Be suspicious of offers ‘too good to miss’

If an offer is too good to miss, it could be too good to be true. Check you’re not being scammed by comparing with offers available elsewhere online. If the deal is well outside the norm, it could be a scam. 

Check the URL

Fraudsters can spoof websites, so double-check the web address is as you’d expect. Misspellings or dots and dashes in strange places should be a red flag. Use a search engine to make sure you’re on a company’s official website, not a spoof. If you’re not sure of the company, perform an independent search to see if you can find reviews from genuine customers – both good and bad.

If you’re entering payment details on a web browser, it can help to check that the URL of the page (in the address bar) starts ‘https://’ or your browser shows you the padlock icon. The ‘s’ means that the connection to the company’s server is encrypted. If it’s not, don’t share any personal information with that website.

Beware of paying by bank transfer

Paying for online shopping by bank transfer – when they ask you to send money to them using their account number and sort code – can be risky, as doing so isn’t as safe as paying by card or dedicated online payment services.

Unexpected follow-up? Check what you ordered

If you’ve ordered a few things for delivery, it can be easy to lose track. Double-check the details of any follow-up messages received from delivery companies or online sellers before clicking links or providing personal information. 

Fraudsters can impersonate legitimate organisations by sending plausible but fake messages about an order you have supposedly made, and pressure you into providing valuable information. Read more about how to avoid the pressure tactics of scammers here

Ask to call them back

If you receive an unexpected call about an order and you’re not sure it’s legitimate, tell them you’ll call them back. Then find the official contact number from somewhere you’re confident is authentic before you return their call. If it’s a genuine call, they won’t mind you doing this. 

If something seems unusual, trust your instinct

If you’re suspicious, it’s probably for good reason. Ask someone else’s opinion, and if in doubt, go with your gut. 

We have prepared this information with care but it is not intended to be exhaustive.

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