Fraud is now at record levels. Even more worryingly, this is only scratching the surface with vast amounts of fraud going unreported.
With fraud rising by 50 per cent compared to the previous year, many consumers steer clear of buying online believing it to be a “riskier” environment. However, with so many advantages to shopping online – including reduced prices, comparison tools and voucher codes – how can you ensure you shop safely so you don’t miss out on these often substantial savings?
Basic internet safety
Before you consider how to shop safely online you should make sure you’re following some basic steps towards internet safety. These include installing security software and ensuring it is updated regularly; turning on automatic updates so that you get the latest software fixes from Windows and other operating systems as soon as they become available; and setting a strong password that you change regularly.
Be careful with anything suspicious online. For example, if you receive an email from an unknown sender then think twice before you open any links or attachments. You should also be careful with sharing any financial information – don’t send emails with important financial details; and don’t fall into the trap set by senders requesting your information. It is not uncommon for fraudsters to pose as your bank and ask for personal details – however, in reality, no bank would request these details via email.
Shop safely online
When it comes to shopping online, there are some basic steps to follow that will help you make a secure purchase. For example, look for reputable sellers – ensure any website you use has a legitimate address and phone number attached to it; and check that the seller has a clear privacy and returns policy.
Look for secure websites too. When you use a secure website and enter your credit card information you should see a padlock system in the bottom right hand corner of the browser window and the website address should start with “https://”. If you have the latest browser technology then the web address bar should turn green when you use a shop with the latest website security technology – this is known as an extended validation SSL certificate. Remember however, that the padlock is not an absolute guarantee about safety and if your security software is warning you about a website then you should be very cautious before proceeding further.
Finally, remember that if an offer or deal appears too good to be true, then it probably is. Be particularly wary of anything that is offered in an unsolicited email; and make sure you cross-check information on the internet to see if anyone else has had problems dealing with a certain company or retailer.
Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash