Tips for safe shopping online

Many billions of pounds are spent each and every year via online retailers here in the UK and the trend of shopping online rather than in-store only ever continues to grow year on year. Whilst in the past the high street was where all major shopping trips took place, increasingly consumers are favouring the quick and simple nature offered by online retailers instead. There’s no need to pay to park the car, hop on the train or worrying about the amount of time it will take to trail around all the shops, instead the internet puts all the goods and services we could dream of at our finger tips. These are not the only things that make the internet a great place to shop and I’m sure depending on your preference there’s a whole host of different reasons but the common dominator is its easy and convenience. Whether you want to shop the sales, like the recent Black Friday Event from your Smart phone or order the weeks food shop from the comfort of your own sofa or even book the next family holiday on your next lunch break; the world of online shopping allows you to do all these things and much more. It would therefore be safe to say that the UK certainly has the online shopping bug and as a collective; we show no signs of slowing down! We this fact in mind it is more important than ever before that we conduct our online shopping in a manner which is safe and considered.

Online fraud, or cyber fraud as it is also known, is a growing concern here in the UK and retailers are consistently having to defend themselves against online hackers. This means increasingly online lenders are adding extra protection based systems to their sites to ensure the shopping experience we have with them is safe and secure. Ultimately it is the aim of cyber criminals to obtain our personal details to use for their own benefit and in what are later found to be criminal activities. Automatically we are lead to believe online fraudsters are intent on obtaining only our bank account information, with the goal being to remove funds from our bank accounts. Whilst this in many instances this is the case, there are also a number of other ways in which online cyber criminals operate. Where some will aim to obtain our banking information, whether that be our bank account details or more commonly our debit card information. Online hackers will also want to obtain our personal information in terms of our name, date of birth and address. This information can later be shared with other parties with criminal intent to build fake identity’s and therefore routes to crime.

All of the above information will undoubtedly create a really rather bleak picture of the online world of shopping but thankfully, there are a number of different steps we can take to avoid our personal details being open to the risk of cyber fraud. First and foremost, it is really important that you can trust the source at which you intend to make a purchase. This means using known and verified websites. Major brands and high street suppliers are often obvious choices to consider and in addition websites which start with ‘https’. This is not to say that smaller retailers need to be avoided altogether, instead it is worth doing some additional research as to their nature. One way of doing this is via Trust Pilot for example, who provide reviews for online retailers. If they are not listed, this may indicate good enough reason to stay away from that particular site. Many of the larger and well-known online retailers will have partnerships with the likes of Verified by Visa which adds an additional layer of security to any transaction with takes place online so it is worth looking out for their logo as you navigate their site. In addition to this it worth conducting your online shopping via the use of either a credit card or debit card which is not specifically linked to your main current account. The level of protection with credit cards can be greater in most cases and if this is not possible, using a debit card which has only the required funds available may later turn out to be a sensible move; should your details later be hacked.

The trick with staying secure online is being vigilant and not making purchases when you are not 100% certain of the source. Do not follow links from emails, unless you are absolutely certain they are safe and genuine. Keeping all these things in mind will almost certainly help your online shopping experiences to remain safe and satisfying. 

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Author: Internal Customer Services Agent