On Friday 24 November, people will storm the shops to take advantage of Black Friday discounts, but some people prefer to stay at home and shop. On Black Friday in 2016 the total spend on online retail sites was £1.23bn, marking a 12.2% increase from the same day in 2015. Here, Tony Blockley, Head of Policing at the University of Derby gives his advice on how to shop safely online.
There are a number of simple rules that anyone using the internet to purchase goods should be aware of in order to protect themselves as much as possible. The challenge of purchasing in an online world means you are devoid of one to one contact and so have to trust the site you are visiting is secure.
Check you virus software
Before starting any transactions does your computer have up to date virus software installed? If not then it should have and whilst this doesn’t give absolute protection it is a start and will afford some safety.
Poor spelling and grammar
Check the webpage, sometimes simple things like the misuse of language or spelling mistakes may indicate a fraudulent site.
Always look for the padlock
You are always encouraged to buy using a credit card as this does come with certain protection and guarantees. If you are about to enter your credit card details make sure it is a secure page, this is usually indicated with a padlock in the browser address bar, if it is on the page itself this may be a fraudulent site.
Your right to return
Often sellers do not take payment and divert to a payment site (World pay, Pay Pal etc). These are secure sites but make sure they are the legitimate site and not copies created by the scammer.
There is general guidance about using internet connection through WiFi in public places. It is very easy for individuals to steal your details in these circumstance.
Always check bank statements and if there is anything that appears untoward contact your bank or Action Fraud on 0300 123 20 40 or www.actionfraud.police.uk. Sometimes the easiest way to steal undetected is just to take small amounts numerous times and so not necessarily alert you.
Never give your details over the phone and be aware the scammers will use all sorts of ways to get your details from coercing you, to threatening you with legal action if you don’t and many others. If in doubt hang up and get advice.
Finally always log out of a site don’t just shut down the window. Above all if it sounds too good to be true it probably is and avoid it.