Take extra care if you’re buying from a company that’s not well known – it’s not as safe as buying from the big, reliable names like Amazon or Argos.

  • Avoid buying from companies you don’t recognise, unless they’ve been recommended by someone trustworthy.

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover – a slick website can be a front for a shady business.

  • Check that it’s a real company. If in doubt, search for the company online.

  • Take care with overseas companies. You’re less likely to have heard of them, so it’s harder to judge if they’re legitimate.

How to make sure you’re on a secure site

You should only put your card details into sites that are secure – otherwise someone else could intercept them and use them for fraud. On a secure site, you should see a few reassuring signs.

  • The padlock symbol. Look for a padlock symbol in the bottom right of the browser window – in the frame of the browser, not in the web page itself. This suggests that the site is secure, but it’s not a guarantee, and it doesn’t mean that the seller is honest.

Stay alert for scams

It’s a well-known fact – if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Top tips for avoiding scams:

  • Buy only from companies you know.

  • Never buy something from a spam or unsolicited email.

  • If you’re suspicious, crosscheck online. Do a web search for the company name and the word ‘scam’ – if you find complaints from other people, do not buy anything from that company.

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