Top tips for shopping online safely this festive season

ActionFraud UK has released top tips for shopping online safely this festive season.

Online shopping fraud has surged by 30 per cent over the pandemic as many of us continue to shop online in light of current restrictions.

And figures from Action Fraud show that criminals conned 17,407 shoppers out of almost £13.5 million ( €15.2 million) over the Christmas period last year, an increase of over 20 per cent when compared to the same period in 2018.

The public is being warned to take extra care when shopping online, ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers search for bargains and gifts for loved ones in the run-up to Christmas.

1. Be selective about where you shop
Seeing a padlock in the address bar is a good thing, as it means the connection and your information is secured, but it’s not a guarantee that the shop itself is legitimate.
To help you decide if you’re happy to purchase from a site, you could do some research, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was.

2. Only provide necessary information
The padlock sign means that your connection is encrypted, so your information will reach the site without anyone else being able to read it. That’s important if you’re sending things like payment details or personal information, but it doesn’t tell you who is at the other end of the connection or how they look after your information.

There’s some obvious details that an online store will need, such as your delivery information and your payment details, but be cautious if they ask for details that are not required for your purchase. You shouldn’t need to give out your mother’s maiden name, or the name of your primary school, in order to buy something.

You only need to fill in the mandatory details of forms when making a purchase. These are usually marked with an asterisk*. Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future.

3. Use secure protected payment
If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, ensure that the section where you enter your payment details is secure – this means that your payment details will reach the site without anyone else being able to read them.

Addresses should start “https://” in the address bar.

Your browser may mark an address as insecure – this means the site is not encrypted, so avoid entering payment details or any personal information as anyone could access this information.

It is also a good idea to use a credit card to pay for things online if you have one. Most major credit and debit card providers insure purchases, and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances (i.e. under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974).

You may also wish to consider using a third-party payment medium (such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay), so that the store you purchase from doesn’t even see your payment details.

The Money Advice Service explains more on credit and debit card protection and how to claim (i.e. through Chargeback or Section 75) should something have gone wrong:

Citizens Advice has helpful information on getting your money back if you paid by credit card, debit card or PayPal and didn’t receive what you’d paid for:

4. Keep your accounts secure
Create a strong password made up of three random words for each of your online accounts. You can add numbers and symbols to make it harder for hackers to crack as well.

It’s also good practice to use a separate password for each account

For further guidance on staying secure online follow the NCSC’s Cyber Aware advice.

5. Take care with unexpected communications
You may receive communications purporting to be from an online store, or come across online adverts with enticing offers.

If you are unsure, or if you think something is suspicious and you’ve already responded, follow the NCSC guidance on Dealing with suspicious emails, phone calls and text messages.

6. If things go wrong
Anyone can fall victim to fraud. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online For advice in Spain, visit CAB Spain

Thank you for taking the time to read this news article “Top tips for shopping online safely this festive season”. For more UK daily news, Spanish daily news and Global news stories, visit the Euro Weekly News home page.

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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