How to avoid online fraud
Buying and selling online is just as safe as ordering goods over the phone. But you should be aware that people may try to convince you to give them your cash and personal details.
Keep your financial details safe
Before you buy
Before you buy anything online, make a note of the address of the company that you are buying from. This should include details of the telephone and/or fax - never rely on just an email address.
Always use secure sites
These sites have 'https' in front of the web address which indicates that the company has been independently checked to make sure they are who they say they are. A yellow padlock symbol will appear in the browser window to show the payment process is secure.
- when transferring money use reliable firms
- never transfer or receive money for someone else
- check sites' privacy and returns policy
- print out a copy of your order and any acknowledgement you receive
- check your bank statement carefully against anything you buy online
- keep your passwords secure
- Consumer issues and advice (government, citizens and rights section)
- Be secure online
Recognising and dealing with internet fraud
You may be the victim of internet fraud if:
- you have paid for an item online and it does not arrive
- you sell something online and you don't receive payment
- the item you receive doesn't match the original description you were given
If you think you are a victim of fraud:
- check with the company you dealt with to see if you can resolve the problem
- if you have a problem with an item bought or sold using on an auction site (like eBay), check to see if they can help
- if you paid using a credit card and the goods did not arrive, you can ask the credit card company to investigate
- if you used an online payment service, check if you are covered by a fraud protection scheme on the service website
You have the same rights buying online as over the phone or by mail order. You can find out more on the Consumer Direct website and this helpline: 0845 4040 506, or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Schemes to watch out for
The internet provides criminals with an easy way to contact thousands of people at a time. Examples include, emails offering the chance to take part in money making schemes, or claiming you are the winner of a prize draw.
You can avoid being a victim of internet fraud by:
- remembering if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is
- taking your time making decisions that involve parting with money
- getting independent financial advice before making investments
- only doing business with companies that you recognise or know of by recommendation by someone you trust - don't judge a company on how 'professional' their website looks
- if in any doubt, you can check a company is genuine by looking them up on Companies House or the Financial Services Authority websites - if they are they will be registered
- Financial scams - how to protect yourself (money, tax and benefits section)
- How to identify fake websites - advice from Get Safe Online
If personal details like your address, passport number and National Insurance number are stolen they can be used to set up online accounts, apply for credit cards and even apply for benefits in your name without you knowing.
Criminals may try to get your credit card details by sending emails that appear to be from a reputable online organisation like a bank or credit card company. They encourage you to enter your credit card details or password on a fake website.