Online shopping is a modern convenience that has transformed the lives of millions. No longer do we need to brave the queues, go out in all weathers or lug home heavy bags. Instead, it couldn’t be easier to browse through endless amounts of products, and have them delivered right to our doors. But when you’re checking out your purchases, just how safe are those payment details you’re entering? Every year millions of people find themselves victims of online theft. Here are some of the ways you can stop it from happening to you.
Use a Secure Method of Payment
It goes without saying that anyone requesting payment directly through their bank, or via a money sending service such as the Western Union, should be avoided at all costs. When payments are sent in this way, you have no protection whatsoever. International money sending services are used often by scammers so never make a payment in this way, regardless of how legitimate you think the purchase seems. Instead using a service such as Paypal is advisable. They ensure that the product you get matches the description of what you bought online, or you get your money back. Using a credit card (NOT a debit card) on purchases over £100 is also a safe method. This is because under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act you have legal protection against fraud, guarantees and non-delivery. This covers purchases between £100, and £30,000. Although there are certain purchases above £30k are covered too.
Shop on Trusted Websites
With so many websites online selling things these days, it’s impossible to know all of them. It can be difficult to know exactly which ones can be trusted, but there are things that will give you clues. Legitimate websites should have a contact email address, a phone number and a physical address. Checking through their social media can also be a clue, trusted sites will generally have a good customer following. Reviews and conversations on their accounts to from customers will also be a clue as to whether they’re legitimate. If you’re not sure, stick to the stores which you do know. Online shopping can be great for finding bargains, but anything that looks too good to be true is always best avoided. It could be a fraudulent website or sell fake items. Using your common sense will serve you well here, but if you’re still not sure you could check out a third party review site or a website checker. Finally as with the point above, always use a secure method of payment.
Use Online Theft Prevention Software
There are so many types of software to prevent online theft these days. These work to prevent your identity being stolen through phishing scams and malware, or monitoring your records for suspicious activity. You should always take steps to avoid becoming a victim of this- such as logging off from shared computers, not clicking links you’re unsure about and keeping your sensitive data protected. However, this kind of software can act as an extra line of defense just in case. Even the most vigilant of people can be caught out by criminals and so it’s useful to have a backup plan.
Use Official Apps
A massive proportion of online shopping is now done on phones and tablets. In fact, research has shown that for the first time, the majority of purchases are now made in this way. It’s fine to shop online using your phone, and you shouldn’t be put off by it. But shopping through a retailer’s official app rather than through the browser makes it even safer.
Double Check Everything
When you’re checking out your purchase, double check everything. Make sure that a more expensive shipping option hasn’t automatically been added, and there aren’t any boxes ticked that mean you’re buying additional cover or extras that you don’t want. When entering any card details, make sure the browser starts with ‘https’ instead of just ‘http’. This ensures your details are securely encrypted. After your purchase, check your confirmation email to make sure everything looks ok. Finally, make a habit of checking through your bank statements and credit files carefully. Keeping a note of what you’re spending on which website is helpful here as it allows you to keep track better. Investigate anything that doesn’t look right immediately.
There are a few things to think about when shopping online. But providing you use common sense and take steps to protect yourself, you will be okay.