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Learn how to keep yourself safe when using your credit card to buy things online, by asking yourself these questions.
Shopping online is really handy, and you can find great deals, but it’s best to purchase from companies you’ve heard of and which have an established reputation.
Never give personal or card information to a company you don’t recognise, or haven’t done a little research on first. Be wary if you see:
Here are a few things you can check easily when visiting a website:
Always take your time and make some checks before you make any online purchases. It’s a good idea to make sure that there’s a contact address and phone number on a website, just in case you need to get in touch with a company later on.
A lot of the points above also apply to purchasing from individuals, whether that’s on social media or a trading website, but there are a few specific things to consider:
Be especially careful when you buy from a private seller. If something goes wrong, your legal rights might not be the same as when you are dealing with an official business.
Again, most of the points above apply to staying safe on social media. Be wary of deals which seem too good to be true, any links you click and what information you share. The more information a fraudster has, the easier it is for them to steal your identity and money.
Check online reviews
Hearing about the experiences of other customers might help you to make up your own mind about a company you’re planning to purchase with. However, it’s useful to know that not all reviews are authentic or typical, so you need to use your own instinct too.
Check where a company is based
If you’re buying from a company based in Europe, you might still be protected by your consumer rights under UK law, regardless of the local laws which may apply to any contract of sale.
If something goes wrong when buying from a company based outside of Europe, it might be more difficult or expensive to resolve things.
Want to know more about scams?
You’ll find lots of information online, but we list some of the latest scams on our website. Seeing examples could help you to spot scams out there in the real world.
By staying alert, you can prevent your information getting into the wrong hands. You might find the following tips helpful:
If you’d like to know more about keeping your card and personal details safe, you might like to read our guides on protecting yourself from fraud, including information about the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign from Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA).
We also list some of the latest scams on our website. By seeing real examples, it could help you to identify and avoid falling for scams.
Before you make a purchase online, it’s important to understand any costs, stock availability and when you can expect to receive an item or service.
Some costs might not be included in the price you’re shown online, such as VAT, delivery, packaging and customs duties if the seller is outside the UK. Make sure you read through all of the small print carefully. If you’re not sure about all of the charges, don’t go ahead with a purchase.
Each retailer and service provider will have their own policies for delivery, returns and cancellations, so make sure you read through those details before you buy.
Delivery – make sure you’re aware of all costs, and how soon goods or services will be delivered.
Returns and cancellations – are there any restrictions you need to know about? It’s useful to know that if you order an item from outside the UK, it could be more complicated or expensive to return it.
Most websites have information pages or frequently asked questions you can check, but if you’re not completely sure, you could contact the retailer or service provider.
Be especially careful if an item is currently unavailable but ‘due soon’. Estimates can be unreliable, so you could find yourself waiting a long time, or chasing a refund when orders can’t be fulfilled.
Some websites offer a ‘stock alert’ service instead, so you’ll receive an email or text message when an item is available again.
In most cases, shopping online is convenient and quick, but if something goes wrong, it’s handy to know what to do.
It’s a good idea to print off pages or take screenshots, especially for larger online purchases. That way you’ll have the order details ready if there’s a problem later on. Websites can be updated very regularly. It could be useful to have proof from the time you made your purchase.
Most companies will also send you an order confirmation by text message or email, which you should also keep hold of, at least until items or services are delivered.
It’s useful to know that some companies trade under different names, so double check any transactions you’re unsure of.
It’s important that you get in touch if you suspect your card has been used without your knowledge, or you think someone knows your Online Banking sign in details.
You should try to resolve things with the retailer or service provider first. Just be careful if you communicate by email. Emails aren’t encrypted, so you shouldn’t include any personal or card details you wouldn’t want anyone else to see or use.
If you can’t resolve things yourself, we might be able to help. You’ll find useful information on our credit card payment disputes page.
Most credit card purchases of over £100 and up to £30,000 are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which means you could claim a refund if something you’ve paid for is faulty, doesn’t arrive or isn’t as described.
Make sure you’re only give your information to a company you recognise, or have checked out first.
Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.