Online fraud and how to avoid it

Online shopping scams cost Brits £58m in 2018. But that doesn’t mean online shopping is risky. Buying products online can be just as safe as shopping in-store, but some of the risks are different, so you need to know what they are – and how not to get caught out.

However, there are many different types of online fraud, including phishing, fake websites, and banking scams. Knowing how to spot them, and the steps you can take to avoid them, is key to staying safe.

Take a look at some of the most common online shopping scams below:

Fake websites

Scammers have become particularly good at setting up sophisticated websites to look like the real deal, but they are really selling fakes. 

As well as websites ‘selling’ miracle hair loss formulas, get rich quick schemes and fake ‘pension liberation’ schemes, shoppers also need to be aware of professional-looking online shops that deliver either fake products or nothing at all.

These phoney sites may also steal your personal data and use it for more malicious purposes down the road so checking that a website is secure is key.

Social media marketplace scams

Online platforms like Gumtree and Facebook Market Place have become hotbeds for online shopping scams.

Here, individuals can hide behind relative anonymity while they encourage you to part with your cash, without providing anything in return. In some cases, there have even been reports of robberies occurring when people meet in real life to exchange goods.

Not as advertised

As well as these more overt scams, there is another kind of fraud that is more pervasive. That is online retailers selling products not as advertised.

One example is people selling fake designer products. Other scammers might sell products that are less valuable or otherwise significantly different from the original description. It also counts as fraud if the seller fails to disclose some important information about the product, such as any damage.

There are some important things to look out for to avoid getting scammed online. Some of the top tips include:

Choose companies with a strong reputation

One of the best ways to stay safe online is to always buy from a reputable retailer. This might be a high street shop or a well popular online seller. Also, check the reviews of buyers to help support their reputation.

Verify the business you’re buying from

If you have any doubts about a website you’re buying from, try and verify the business behind it. Look at the ‘About us’ page or the ‘Contact us’ page. Do they provide contact details in case you need to get in touch? Is there a ‘terms and conditions’ page (often in the footer of the homepage) that gives the details of the business?

Avoid public Wi-Fi networks

It’s always better to buy products online when you’re at home on your own Wi-Fi network. Buying products on a public network, for example coffee shops and airports, should be avoided if possible. Because purchasing online requires you to share personal information and some banking information, it’s risky to do this when you aren’t in a private setting.

Check the security of the website

If a website is ‘secure’ it will have ‘https’ in the web address and it should also show a padlock symbol in the browser window next to the web address.

Most importantly, this security feature shows that the company has been independently verified to make sure that they are who they say they are, giving you more confidence to buy goods.

We work in partnership with a range of verified independent retailers, offering shoppers the opportunity to spread the cost of their purchases over several months, completely interest free. Start shopping online with DivideBuy today.

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