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With online shopping becoming the norm for many of us, staying safe and avoiding fraudsters is more important than ever
Often, online shopping can seem like the ideal way to get your retail therapy fix. It offers the convenience of searching for the exact item you want and having it in your (virtual) shopping basket within a matter of minutes.
Indeed, according to the Office for National Statistics, e-commerce sales by businesses in the UK non-financial sector were a staggering £688 billion in 2018. The coronavirus pandemic has bolstered the popularity of online shopping even further: the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index said that online retail sales growth was up a huge 32.7% year-on-year in May, which represents the highest annual result since March 2008.
However, as the number of us who are shopping online increases, so does the opportunity for scammers and fraudsters. Sadly, they can use fake websites and non-existent items to access our personal details and money, tricking us into thinking that we’re buying something from a genuine seller. But as daunting as this may seem, there are plenty of precautions that shoppers can take to protect themselves.
It is always a good idea to buy from a well-established, big brand if you can, since this offers some kind of reassurance that what you are purchasing will be as you expect and of high-quality. If you are buying from a smaller retailer, look at reviews to see what experiences other people have had. ‘Establish a physical address and telephone contact details so you know you can contact them if you need to,’ adds Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, and you should also carefully check the spelling of the URL, since fraudsters will often add in subtle letter changes that can easily go unnoticed. ‘A quick and simple way to check you are browsing on a safe site is to look next to the URL,’ advises Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at comparison site money.co.uk. ‘Make sure you are using an https:// or secure server internet connection. If the website has a padlock next to it, the website is usually secure. However, there are occasions where spammers