Tomorrow, Monday 2nd December, is Cyber Monday and Cleveland Police’s Cyber Crime team are offering their top nine tips to staying safe when shopping online.
Shopping online can save time and effort and gives you a wide choice of goods from around the world. Unfortunately, while most buyers and sellers are genuine, fraudsters use online shopping scams because they can hide their identity and target many victims at the same time.
Observing the below safe shopping practices may prevent you from becoming a victim of online fraud:
Do some research to find out what a fair or competitive price is for similar goods in the same condition; if the offer sounds too good to miss out on, it might not really exist, be fake or of inferior quality.
Fraudsters often use stock images or other people’s images, or use the same image on multiple websites/adverts. You can check if images appear elsewhere on the internet through websites like TinEye or ReversePhotos.
Check the seller or buyer’s review history and feedback from other reviewers. Beware of accounts that may have been set up very recently with lots of favourable feedback that sounds similar, this could be an indication of fake reviews.
Always use the site’s recommended payment site, if they have one, and read the terms and conditions to understand what you are protected for. If you pay any other way than via a recommended payment site, you may not be able to recover your money.
Where there’s no recommended payment site, paying via credit card or known third party payment providers is preferable to direct bank transfers. Check your bank statements or online account regularly.
Make sure that the website you’re buying from is genuine – and not a fake or copycat site – by typing in the address yourself and checking the spelling. Fake addresses usually vary from authentic ones with just one or two incorrect letters.
Research sellers’ and other bidders’ selling history. And bear in mind that a website ending ‘.co.uk’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s based in the UK. Check the address of the company and the phone number.
Don’t make payment over insecure WiFi (a public WiFi or one with no password to access).
Make sure you’re making payments on a secure site as some fake sites are made to look like real ones. You can check the URL website link is secure in two ways:
There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window where you can see the site address / URL when you log in or register (beware on unfamiliar sites as this can be faked); if you’re not sure the webpage is genuine, don't use it.; be sure that the padlock is within the address bar at the top of the screen, not on the page itself
The web address should begin with ‘https://’; the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
Other useful sites include:
Get Safe Online Provides unbiased, practical, easy-to-understand information about online safety and security.
Action Fraud The UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. Providing a central point of contact for information about fraud and cyber crime. Call 0300 123 2040.