With the holiday season just around the corner, many of us would rather shop for gifts online rather than braving the crowds in the shops: a survey by Deloitte found that 55% of the people they surveyed were planning to do their festive shopping online this year, with 36% planning to use a mobile payment app.
But while you might be protected from the stress and rush of trying to do your shopping for the holidays by buying presents online, don’t forget that scammers are out in force over the festive period.
Last year in the UK shoppers lost nearly £16m to fraudsters, according to Action Fraud – that’s up 60% on the previous year, it said.
And it’s not just online – you can also be scammed while out shopping or celebrating. To help you stay safe this holiday season, we’ve put together a few tips for you.
Know who you’re buying from
Try to buy only from established, trusted retailers. If you’ve never heard of a store when you see its website, Google it: what do other shoppers say about it? How long has it been established? Check the price of the item you’re thinking of buying there against other online shops: does the deal seem too good to be true?
If you’re going to buy from small retailers, check if they sell via a bigger e-commerce platform such as Amazon, Etsy or eBay, where you have some protections if things go wrong. And never pay via direct bank transfer: if a small retailer doesn’t offer card payment, use a service such as PayPal instead.
Look closely at the website address
Check for a padlock in the URL field of your browser, and make sure the website address starts with https:// - the “s” stands for “secure”, and means that all the information you send to the website such as your credit card details is encrypted.
Keep an eye out for fake websites pretending to be real stores: scammers set up websites that look like the real thing to steal credit card details, with sneaky substitutions like using a figure 1 or a capital I instead of a lower-case L. This can be really hard to spot, so the best way to protect yourself is either to type in the store’s web address yourself, or to check with Google what the retailer’s web address should be.