Online shopping looks to be the future. Not only can you find anything you want, you can shop around for the best price and get it delivered the next day.
But is it safe?
It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security with online shopping. You know that there are criminals on the high street. There are many more places for them to hide online, and plenty more ways for them to part you from your money.
Most internet retailers are legitimate, and will offer quality products, reasonable prices and all the delivery and support services you would expect, but some do not, and you need to keep yourself safe online.
Are they who they say they are?
A legitimate looking website may only look legitimate. It’s all too easy for fraudsters to clone a site and pass themselves off as the real thing. You like what they have to offer and input your payment details. You’ll never receive the goods you ordered, and your details will be used to steal your identity as well as from your bank account.
Look very carefully at the URL. A slightly off spelling indicates an attempt to pass off a fake site.
Are they making offers that are too good to be true?
Are they a trusted retailer?
It may be best to stick with the retailers you know and trust. But if you are tempted by an unknown website, check that the site address begins “https”, which indicates a secure protocol, rather than “http”, and that there is a small padlock symbol in the address bar. These both indicate that it is safe to use, and that you can trust it with your money. You should also ensure that the company has a full postal address and not just a PO Box, and also provides a phone number.
It is also worth checking where companies are based. Some sites might appear to have UK domain names but are registered abroad.
Check the returns policy
A UK based site should offer you protection under the Consumer Contracts Regulations (which replaces the old Distance Selling Regulations) and you have an absolute right to cancel your order within 14 days, even if you just change your mind.
Ordering goods and sending most of them back has become the standard business practice with online fashion where suppliers recognise that people want to try clothes on.
But not all online businesses are so accommodating. If your goods arrive from an overseas supplier it’s hard to send them back to the other side of the world if they are not as advertised.
Never pay anything to a site that does not have that “https” and the padlock symbol, but if you pay by credit card, you have additional protection if something goes wrong. Your card company is liable for any misrepresentations or breaches of contract if you paid between £100 and £30,000. Don’t pay for items direct from your bank account in return for a discount. This can indicate that the seller is a fraudster, and you will probably find your balance suddenly falls to zero shortly after.
If you’ve been the victim of an online shopping fraud you can report it to the police.
Hopefully, these tips should help you keep you and your money safe online. For help with all other aspects of managing your money simply call us at Continuum.