Safe online shopping.


Unrecognised payments and disputes with a seller

If you haven’t got what you thought you were buying, or if you see a payment on your statement that you don’t recognise, it doesn’t always mean you’ve been the victim of fraud. Learn more about checking payments and seller disputes here:

I don’t recognise a payment on my credit card

I don’t recognise a payment on my debit card

Shopping online can be a great way of finding deals and can save you money as well as time. But remember not every deal or website you find online will be safe.

What to look out for:

  • Spelling mistakes - Look out for small spelling differences in the company’s website address. For example Hallifax vs Halifax. Fake websites use slightly different spellings to trick you into thinking you’re visiting a well-known website.
  • Strange or odd looking webpages - Fake websites sometimes don’t look quite right. The colours and logo might look different to what you’d expect.
  • Deals that seem too good to be true - If the website’s prices are a lot lower than other online sellers, it might be a scam.
  • Unusual payment methods - Fraudsters may ask you to pay by direct bank transfer or wire transfer. For example: Western Union. These payment types aren't easy to trace, and you may not get your money back if things go wrong.
  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.
  • Time-limited offers – Fake websites may try to get you to spend money by putting pressure on you. For example, a great deal may only be available for a short amount of time.

What you can do:

How to protect yourself: setting up your device.

  • Use anti-virus software - Install it on your devices and keep it up to date. It’s a good idea to set it to scan at least once a week.
  • Pay attention to anti-virus warnings - Your anti-virus software should tell you when a site is unsafe to visit or if a file is unsafe to open.
  • Never switch off security settings - Don’t switch off security settings like your firewall, even if they annoy you.
  • Keep your devices up to date - Keep your browser, operating system and software up to date. Don’t keep putting off updates - it’s there to protect you.

How to protect yourself: before you pay online.

  • Look for the closed padlock - The most secure sites have a closed padlock in the address bar, and https:// at the beginning of the web address. Always look for these when you fill in your personal or banking details on a web page, or when you sign in. Keep in mind: they won’t necessarily appear on other pages on the same website*. 
  • Search for reviews - Use a search engine to look for independent reviews before buying anything.
  • Be wary of links or attachments in unexpected text message or emails - Even if they seem to offer great deals, the link might take you to a fake website or infect your device with a virus. Look up the deal separately in a search engine to check it’s real.
  • Choose a safe payment method – Make sure you’re paying for anything online using standard payment methods. For example: using your debit or credit card on sites directly. Be careful paying using other methods.
  • Protect your PIN or personal details - Never enter private information, such as your PIN code, on a website or in an email.
  • Take your time - Spend some time making sure the offer is genuine and you’re happy to make the purchase.

* The closed padlock / https:// only tells you that the link between you and the website owner is secure, and not that the site itself is genuine. You'll still need to check the web address for misspellings, additional words and characters.

The internet is a great way to buy and sell new or second hand goods. But fraudsters also post fake adverts on social media such as Facebook or trading websites like Gumtree.

What to look out for:

  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.
  • Deals that seem too good to be true - If the seller’s prices are a lot lower than other online sellers, it might be a scam.
  • Requests for advance payments - For large expensive items like cars and caravans, it's common for fraudsters to invite you to view the item. They will then ask you to send money and pick up the item the next day. Once they have your money they'll disappear. Don’t send any money until they hand the item over to you.
  • Unusual payment methods - Fraudsters often ask you to pay by direct bank transfer or wire transfer. For example: Western Union. These payment types aren't easy to trace, and you may not get your money back if things go wrong.

What you can do:

  • Take your time - Spend some time making sure the offer is genuine and you’re happy to make the purchase.
  • Ask the seller questions - If the seller can't answer specific questions, doesn't want to discuss details, or seems to be in a hurry for you to send money, don't go ahead with the sale.
  • Choose a safe payment method - Make sure you’re paying for anything online using standard payment methods. For example: using your debit or credit card on sites directly. Be careful paying using other methods.
  • Make sure the seller hands over the item before paying - If you're buying something expensive like a car, avoid sending a bank transfer or cash until you have picked up the item. Once your money’s gone, it’s not easy to get back.
  • Go with someone if you’re meeting the seller in person - Don't go alone if you're meeting in person and handing over cash.

You can find great holiday deals on the internet. But fraudsters also set up fake websites that look real and could catch you out.

For example: you could arrive at your hotel or holiday home and it’s very different to what you expected. Or it may not exist at all.

What to look out for:

  • Suspicious emails and text messages - Fraudsters sometimes send messages pretending to be from real companies. In these messages you may see links that could lead you to a fake website, or cause a virus to download onto your device.
  • Spelling mistakes - Look out for small spelling differences in the company’s website address. For example Hallifax vs Halifax. Fake websites use slightly different spellings to trick you into thinking you’re visiting a well-known website.
  • Strange or odd looking webpages - Fake websites sometimes don’t look quite right. The colours and logo might look different to what you’d expect.
  • The holiday sounds too good to be true - Fraudsters target popular holiday destinations and rental types by offering much lower prices. If the seller’s prices are a lot lower than other online sellers, it might be a scam.
  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.
  • Unusual payment methods - Fraudsters often ask you to pay by direct bank transfer or wire transfer. For example: Western Union. These payment types aren't easy to trace, and you may not get your money back if things go wrong.

What you can do:

  • Take your time - Spend some time making sure the offer is real and you’re happy to pay.
  • Book with companies that are ABTA and ATOL registered - It’s a good idea to book holidays with companies that are ABTA protected. You can look up the holiday company name on the ABTA website to make sure it’s real.
  • Use the ABTA website before booking your holiday - You can use the ABTA website to go directly to a holiday company’s website. This way you can make sure the website you’re using is real.
  • Choose a safe payment method - Make sure you’re paying for anything online using standard payment methods. For example: using your debit or credit card on sites directly. Be careful paying using other methods.

You can find great bargains on booking websites like Airbnb and Facebook. But fraudsters can use these sites to trick you into booking rentals that don’t exist.

What to look out for:

  • You leave the booking site to pay - Fraudsters may ask you to book by email instead of on the booking website. Make sure you book through the booking site alone.
  • Unusual payment methods - Fraudsters may ask you to pay by direct bank transfer, or wire transfer like Western Union. These payment types aren't easy to trace, so you're unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong.
  • The offer sounds too good to be true - Fraudsters may offer desirable properties at much lower prices. If the host’s prices are a lot lower than other rentals, it might be a scam.
  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different people are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.

What you can do:

  • Follow the terms and conditions of the booking website when paying - Don't send any money in a way that goes against the website’s rules.
  • See what your friends and family say - Ask friends and family to recommend hosts that they’ve used before. This can help you avoid some of the problems that can occur when you book with a stranger.

It can be tempting to buy cheap tickets to an event from an unofficial seller. But if the tickets are fake you might not know until you're turned away at the event. That’s if you receive any tickets at all.

What to look out for:

  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.
  • The ticket price sounds too good to be true - Fraudsters may offer tickets at low prices. If the seller’s prices are a lot lower than others, it might be a scam.
  • Unusual payment methods  - Fraudsters may ask you to pay by direct bank transfer, or wire transfer like Western Union. These payment types aren't easy to trace, so you're unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong.

What you can do:

  • Use a ticket reseller website - Using a real ticket reseller is safer than buying through social media or trading websites. Good ticket reselling companies will be registered with STAR.
  • Check the seller website's terms and conditions - Make sure you know how the website can help you if things go wrong. Don't agree to buy your tickets in a way that goes against the website’s rules.
  • Stay on the seller website - The ticket seller may ask you to switch to email to buy your tickets.  Don’t. It’s usually safer to pay through the website’s internal payment system, if they have one.
  • Choose how to pay - It’s not always possible to get your money back if you pay by direct bank transfer or wire transfer like Western Union.

Our security systems

Real-time fraud detection systems - When you are using online banking, we use Real-time Fraud Detection Systems to decide whether it's really you or a fraudster. We use your data strictly according to the terms and conditions and your data privacy rights. If we see activity on your account that may be suspicious, we'll ask you to call our Fraud Department to confirm it's really you. If it's really you making the payment it will take you a few extra minutes, but this means that we are able to stop most fraud attempts and protect your account. We’ll also send you a text message and display a message in your Online Banking account overview to confirm recent requests that might be suspicious.

Biometric analysis - We use behavioural analysis to help make sure it’s really you giving us instructions in your Online Banking account. This technology builds a detailed profile of how you use Online Banking (i.e. what’s ‘normal’ for you) which is very difficult for a fraudster to mimic. This data is used strictly in compliance with our Online Banking terms and conditions, to protect your privacy and information about you.

DDOS protection - We aim to provide you with fast, accessible Online and Mobile Banking, 24 hours a day. That's why we use state of the art DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service attack) protection, to stop hackers from blocking your access to your accounts online.

Bank name display - When you set up a new payment, we may display which bank account brand you’re sending money to, e.g. Barclays, HSBC, Tesco. By displaying this, we give you the opportunity to recognise if the new payment may be going to the wrong place, for instance if you were expecting to pay another Halifax account but it shows up as Lloyds Bank.

Helpful hints - You’ll see tiles and banners on the logon page and throughout your Online and Mobile Banking sessions once you’ve logged on, which will give you useful hints and tips on protecting yourself online.

Security checks

For certain instructions you give us in your Online Banking, such as setting up a payment to a new account, we need to make sure it’s really you to prevent fraud. You can choose to do this via our secure App, or you can receive an automated phone call and enter the 4 digits shown on your device screen.

Phone calls

Always make sure the explanation is the one you’re expecting.

Telephone Authentication is the recorded call where you’re asked to enter 4 digits from your computer screen to complete an Online Banking action such as payment to a new beneficiary, new products or registrations.

If someone tells you to ignore this explanation (for instance, if they say it's just a test transaction), or if you don’t recognise the action described in the automated call, then you are speaking to a fraudster.

You will never be asked to complete this call to receive money into your account.

AppSign

This is where you have chosen to sign in to your Halifax Mobile Banking App to authorise an action you’ve made on your computer or tablet such as payment to a new beneficiary, new products or registrations.

Read the explanation on screen carefully. If someone tells you to ignore this (for instance, if they say it's just a test transaction), or if you have not yourself requested the above actions, then you are speaking to a fraudster.

If we suspect fraudulent activity on your account we may contact you via telephone to confirm that you carried out the activity. We will confirm your identity by asking you to confirm questions from your credit file / details from your passport or driving licence. We will never ask you for your sign in details.

Report it to us:

  • If someone knows your Online Banking passwords or has used your Online Banking account without your permission
  • If money has fraudulently left your Halifax Online Banking account
  • If you or someone you know has used a Halifax account to move someone else’s money

0345 602 2160

(Lines are open 24 hours a day) +44 1132 888 408 from outside the UK

If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can contact us 24/7 using the Next Generation Text (BGT) Service. If you’re Deaf and a BSL user, you can use the SignVideo service.

If someone knows your credit or debit card PIN or if someone has used your credit or debit card without your permission report it to us on:

0800 0 15 15 15 (Lines open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

If you’re calling from abroad call us on +44 (0) 113 242 8196.

For any other issues that you think may be related to fraud please call Action Fraud:

0300 123 2040

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am-6pm. Text phone users can ring 0300 123 2050.

They’ll be able to log the incident and provide you with a Crime Reference number if needed. Action Fraud collects data from across the UK to help banks and other businesses combat fraud.

Buyer Beware


Read all the details

Read all the details about what you’re buying before you pay for it. Does the description match the title and picture?


Know where you're buying from

It’s easier to complain and get your money back from companies that are based in the UK and EU. Check the location of the seller you’re buying from, especially if they are less well-known.


Be careful of free trials

If you agree to a free trial, check to make sure that you’re not signing up to an expensive monthly subscription. These terms might be hidden in the small print.


Search for the FAQs

Most online shops have a Frequently Asked Questions page. This can help you quickly find key information.


Check the small print

Read the company’s terms and conditions. They should tell you about any hidden costs, as well as delivery and returns information.


Keep track of your purchases

Check your account statements regularly for any payments you don’t recognise.

If you came to this page from our credit card or current account (debit card) pages, you can return here:

Credit cards        Current accounts