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.