For many of us shopping online has become part of daily life. But unfortunately, it has also opened the possibility of shopping scams to steal your credit/debit card details or personal information leading you to become a victim of online crime.

It can often be difficult to spot a fake or scam website, as fraudsters are becoming extremely good at creating convincing websites.

So how can you stay safe and still enjoy the benefits of online shopping?

We all like a bargain, but scam websites often use low prices to entice bargain-hungry shoppers. When you see a very low price or ridiculous discounts, be wary. If a price looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Choose where you shop carefully and do your research. Is it a company you have heard of before? If not, then take a bit of time to explore the homepage or the ‘about us’ pages on their website. Read their Terms and Conditions. Look out particularly for poor English; spelling mistakes, odd grammar or phrases that don’t sound quite right as this is often an indication that the website is not legitimate.

Reputable and legitimate companies will always list ways you can get in touch with them, so if the website doesn’t have a ‘contact us’ page, it could well be fraudulent.

If the only way to contact the company is by completing an online form, be wary. It is more reassuring if the site has a contacts page with different ways to get in touch. A company offering goods or services should list a place of business, as well as a phone number or email address through which to contact them. The company’s address should have a street name, not just a post office box. If they have their address details online or a company or VAT number, you can search for their details on GOV.UK to see if they are a registered company or not.

Be careful what you are signing up to and only provide enough details to complete your purchase. The mandatory fields are usually marked with an asterisk and include your name, delivery address and payment details. You should not be asked for any security information (such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet) to complete your purchase.

If you think your credit or debit card has been used by someone else, let your bank know straight away so they can block anyone using it. Always contact your bank using the official website or phone number.

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

www.actionfraud.police.uk

Read Part Two of this feature here.

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