Christmas Online Shopping – Top Tips to keep safe and avoid e-fraud

Christmas Scams – Online Shopping Fraud!

We all know this … Every year there are “must-have” gifts that we rush to get our hands on.

This year, I believe, it includes items such as the new iPhone 6+ and the latest technology including smartwatches, Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Cameras and Amazon Echo Dots, etc.

Everyone tries to get hold of these or anything else they fancy online and scammers are having a field day exploiting the Christmas rush.  How?    They set up fake “fly-by-night” websites claiming to have these “must-have” items in stock, often offering discount prices to lure you into their net.

Thinking that this is a brilliant bargain and a type of mini Christmas miracle, you whip out your card and pay … without giving it a second thought about who you’ve just handed your hard-earned cash to.  A week later, when the gift you’ve spent £200 on hasn’t arrived and the website you bought it from has suddenly disappeared from the internet, you realise what has happened!!

So here are a few tips

TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID ONLINE SHOPPING SCAMS

Plain common sense yes, but that often goes out the window in the run-up to the sadly commercialized Christmas that has all but lost its meaning anyway!

  1. Deal only with reputable sellers
    Be sure to use companies and websites that are known to you or recommended to you by folk who have purchased items there safely on previous occassions.
  1. Never access links in unsolicited emails
    This can be extremely dangerous.  Type in the website address or use a search engine to find a particular site.   Very often links within emails get directed to “spoof sites” – they are fake but are designed to look exactly like the reputable company’s website.      In order to spot whether it is spoof or not, check website URL – it will be slightly different to the real website.  Don’t go there!
  1. Ensure payment pages are secure
    Make sure there is a https: at the beginning of the URL. If it just only shows “http” then it is not secure.  Additionally, a secure site usually shows a closed padlock.   If it shows an open padlock, it is not secure.
  1. Don’t pay by bank transfers or by wiring money
    Use credit cards, debit cards or PayPal as these offer protection when making purchases.
  1. Make sure your computer anti-virus software is up to date
    Ensure Anti-virus  updates are done prior to doing any online shopping,
  2. Always log out of shopping websites
    Ensure you log out of shopping websites once you have completed your purchase.
  3. Keep a watch on our bank/credit card statements
    Check your statements regularly and report anything you don’t recognize, any unauthorised transactions to your bank/card provider without delay
  4. Ensure you do your due diligence
    If you are thinking of shopping with a company you’ve not heard of before, make sure you check they are legitimate. Check company address, registration, etc  By checking whois.com one can find out when the website was created.  If it is brand new, it should ring warning bells.
  5. Be cautious when buying designer goods
    Always get proof that the products are in fact genuine before you buy. Check the official website to find a list of authorised sellers for major designer brands
  6. Be wary of gift vouchers
    Gift vouchers can be handy presents when someone is rather hard to buy for.   But, they have also become a lucrative business for scammers!   Once again, to avoid suffering gift card misery – be careful to only purchase them from reputable companies.  If you are buying them in-store and not online, make sure to check the card for any signs of tampering.
  7. Remember, if the offer looks too good to be true. it probably is!
    Alarm bells should ring if you know items are out of stock everywhere and yet they “miraculously” appear in stock on an unfamiliar website!   And If they are additionally being offered at bargain prices, then you should be doubly suspicious.

With more and more people shopping online, it is so important to take due care not to get scammed.  It causes unnecessary stress even if you do manage to get your money refunded.