Shopping safely online

Shopping safely online

Here are our top tips for shopping safely online in a time where the digital possibilities are endless.

The last 18 months has really shown us how important the digital space is for our survival. The value of being able to easily shop from the comfort of your own home, whether it’s food, clothes, or electronic gadgets. But, with the rise in smishing, phishing and every other fraudulent practice out there, how can we protect ourselves by shopping safely online?

In a recent article, £2.3 billion has been lost to fraud between April 2020 and March 2021 according to Action Fraud. This equates to a 33% rise year on year due to the surge in online shopping during the pandemic. If you then consider that the global online shopping market reached 4 trillion in 2020 and in Western Europe, e-commerce transactions rose by over 26% in the same year, how much money was fraudulently acquired?

With the onset of COVID-19 and the increase in digital transactions, what can be done to minimise the risk when it comes to making a digital purchase?

Shop where you know

One of our top tips is to shop where you know. There’s a huge amount to be said about brand loyalty and trust… even more so today. If you do spot a like for like product cheaper, then why not speak to your preferred supplier and ask them to match it? As long at the product is the same, it’s definitely worth asking.

Do your research

If a deal seems too good to be true… it probably is. That does sound a little disingenuous, but we do need to protect ourselves. Do your research and look at other providers, they may have a similar online deal. Normally, fraudulent offers have tight timelines to take advantage of the offer, and this plays to our human nature of fear of missing out (FOMO). Taking a few minutes to research the information, a company or deal might pay dividends in the long run.

Read carefully

Check the wording of the deal as well. There have been examples where goods have been advertised and bought… the purchaser didn’t read the details and they ended up with a version of the product, but not as they were expecting. Always check the small print as well and remember… buyer beware!

Consider your payment choice

If you are going to shop online, using your credit card is a good call. There will be an element of security as the card isn’t linked directly to a personal bank account. With a credit card, fraudulent activity can be dealt with quicker and more efficiently. For the super savvy, a virtual credit card might be worth considering. This can be issued by your credit card issuer and whilst it will be linked to your account, it will have limited usage and if anyone other than yourself tries to use it… it will prove to be useless.

Understand general online security behaviours

Having a good understanding of general online security behaviours is also going to stand you in good stead, and there’s a couple of key best practices to consider when navigating the challenging world of being online.

Firstly, check the website URL (website address) and look for a padlock on the left-hand side of the website address. If it has a padlock, the business has encrypted their website.

Another key factor to look for is the actual website address. If it has https at the beginning of the web address, the site is secure, avoid using sites with http only.

Don’t order or browse on public Wi-Fi. It will normally be unsecure, and you never know who’s got access to or is looking at your information. Always shop at home, or via a trusted/secured Wi-Fi network, or even better via VPN. This way you know your information is protected as much as possible.

There are some great websites that offer good advice on staying safe while you’re online, whether that’s shopping, banking, researching or just having a mosey about. These sites include:

The internet has proven to be a lifeline for many over the last 18 months, and it will continue to be an important part of our daily lives, but we must be aware that all that glitters isn’t gold. Make life difficult for the fraudsters by being aware of what we can do to protect ourselves for shopping safely online.

It’s not just online fraud we need to be aware of but note-fraud as well. We have a great blog that discusses note-fraud and what to be aware of. Click here for more information and stay safe!

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