Cotswold Life

The click of a but­ton

With on­line shop­ping be­com­ing the norm for many of us, stay­ing safe and avoid­ing fraud­sters is more im­por­tant than ever

- WORDS: Retail · Shopping · Consumer Goods · E-commerce · Infectious Diseases · Industries · Financial Technology · Finance · Business · Health Conditions · Office for National Statistics · United Kingdom · Capgemini

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 ‘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

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