Tips for Shopping Safely and Securely Online

As Christmas is approaching, some of us find the hustle and bustle of the town centre too much to handle. Most high street shops have websites which you can buy from directly to save you from this experience. Whether you’re a seasoned online shopper or have just started considering it, it’s important to stay safe and secure. Shopping from the comfort of your own home is a preferred option for an increasing number of people each year. Internet security is improving constantly but there are still a few things you should look out for to make sure you’re buying from a safe site.

Paying Securely

When you reach the page where you pay or “checkout” your shopping, check for a small padlock symbol in the address bar of the site and check that the web address begins with https:// (the “s” stand for “secure”).

You also need to ensure that the seller is trustworthy. Here are a few tips to reduce the risk of shopping on a scam site:

1. If you get a pop-up message warning you about a website’s security certificate, be very cautious indeed. You may be redirected to a fake website, designed to get you to hand over your security details.

2. Be wary of offers which appear far too good to be true. While shopping online allows you to receive some great offers, it is easy to draw people into a scam with an offer that’s too good to refuse.

3. If you are not familiar with the website, try asking your friends and family for advice. They may be more familiar with the online shopping world and can help to talk you through all the steps.

Pre-Payment Login Advice

Many sites now require you to sign up for an account and login each time you shop on the site. This is very helpful as it will remember your address and card details which makes the process even faster. However, it’s important to use a strong password that people cannot easily guess to keep these details secure and private.

Try to avoid making purchases online in a public place. Although you may have no issue connecting to a wireless internet service, you cannot be certain that it is secure. People may offer this free connection service and can the gain access to view your personal details.

Steps to Make a Payment

1. Adding to Basket

When you are searching for your shopping on a site and you choose something you wish to buy, you generally have to click on the “Add to Basket” option next to it. This will save the item so you can either pay for it straight away or continue shopping until you are ready to purchase all of your items.

2. Checkout

When you have chosen all the items you want to buy, you can “Proceed to Checkout”. This option is generally at the top right of your screen. You can check that all of the items in your basket are correct and move on to filling out your personal details. This will include your name, address and email address. Once you have filled this in, another summary page will appear for you to check that the information is right.

Before you fill in your card details, the site will ask you to click a box which shows that you agree with the terms and conditions. Many of us do this without reading through to speed up the process. Make sure that you go through these carefully as this could save you from signing up for something you aren’t aware of.

3. Complete 

Finally, you will be asked for your card details. This is generally your card number and card security code or CVV2 code (the three numbers on the back of your card). Once you are happy to go ahead with the payment, you can then click “Proceed” or “Submit”.

Some sites act as a “middleman” between you and a private seller (for example, an auction site). Many of them use PayPal. This is a service you must sign up to. You provide payment to them, and they pass payment on to the seller of the item. The seller won't be able to see your bank details.

Consumer Rights

If you buy something online that costs more than £100, then it's best to use a credit card (if you have one) rather than a debit card. This is because if you spend more than £100 on your credit card, you have legal rights under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

It's important check the terms and conditions of the site you purchased from online as you may have the right to a refund if you are not happy with any items purchased within a certain time period.

Shopping online is a great option and can often save you a lot of money. While you may be afraid of card fraud, it is avoidable and you have rights to protect you in the unlikelihood that you are subject to it. Make sure you are aware of your rights and shop safely.


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