Shop online safely

Shopping online can be a great way to find deals and save money and time. But remember, some deals and websites may not be safe.

Buying from online shops

What to look out for:

  • Spelling mistakes - Fake sites spell words differently to trick you into thinking you’re on a well-known website. Check how they spell things like the site address, it may use a name like Hallifax and not Halifax.
  • Odd looking web pages - Fake sites often don’t look quite right. The colours and logo may look different to what you’d normally see.
  • Amazing deals - If prices on a site are a lot lower than other sellers, it could be a scam.
  • Odd ways of paying - A fake site may ask you to pay by direct bank or wire transfer. These are hard to trace. If things go wrong, you may not get your money back.
  • Bad reviews - Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.
  • You have to buy now - Fake sites can try to get you to spend money right away by putting pressure on you. They may tell you that the great deal is only there for a short time.

What you can do:

How to protect yourself when you set up your device.

  • Use an anti-virus - Install it on your devices and keep it up-to-date. You should scan for viruses at least once a week and follow its advice. It should tell you when a site is unsafe to visit or a file is unsafe to open.
  • Keep your firewall on at all times - Do not turn off your security settings as this helps to protect your device.
  • Keep up to date - Make sure you update your device’s operating system, internet browser and software as often as you can. This will protect your device from the latest scams.

How to protect yourself before you pay online.

  • Look for the closed padlock image - This tells you that the link to the site is secure. You can find it in the address bar. A secure site will also have https:// at the start of its address. But remember, these do not mean a site is genuine. So make sure you're happy with a site before you log on or fill in your personal or banking details.
  • Look for reviews - See if you can find independent reviews before you buy.
  • Be wary of links or attachments - If you get a text message or email with a link to a great deal, it could be a scam.  It may take you to a fake website or infect your device with a virus. Do not use the link or open an attachment. Use a search engine or your browser to look up the deal to make sure it’s real.
  • Choose a safe way to pay - When you pay on a site, use a normal method, like your debit or credit card. Be careful if you pay another way.
  • Keep your PIN or personal details safe - If you are sure that a site is safe then it’s ok to enter your banking and personal details to do things like buy an item. But do not enter your PIN or password on a site or in an email.
  • Take your time - Make sure an offer is genuine before you choose to buy.

Next topic: Buying from people online

Think you've been a victim of fraud?

You should contact us right away if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud. We can then guide you on what to do next.

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?
  • Be careful of free trials - If you agree to a free trial, check to make sure that you don't have to pay for it later on. Look for the terms that may be hidden in the small print.
  • Check the small print - Terms and conditions can be found in the small print. They should tell you about any hidden costs, as well as delivery and returns info.
  • Know where you're buying from - Check the location of the seller you're buying from, especially if they're not well-known. It's easier to complain and get your money back from companies that are based in the UK and EU.
  • Search for FAQs - Most online shops have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page. This can help you quickly find key info.
  • Keep track of what you buy - Check your bank account often to make sure there are no unknown payments.

Unknown payments and disputes with a seller

If you don't get what you thought you were buying, it may not be fraud. The same can be said if you see a payment on your statement that you don’t recognise. Learn more about checking payments and seller disputes here: