Be cautious when shopping online

Date published: 27 November 2017

Take extra care when shopping online. Always do some research before placing an order or doing business. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is - don't find out the hard way.

Do some research

Bad experiences shopping online can vary from slow or non-delivery of goods right through to scams where people lose hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Take care when shopping online, as it is not always easy to know who you are dealing with. For example, just because a web address ends in '.co.uk' there is no guarantee that the business is based in the United Kingdom.

Before buying online, including if you're booking a holiday, you're advised to use the internet to research if there are any problems with the business you are thinking of dealing with.

Searching online using the business’s name followed by the word 'scam' can be particularly helpful, as can searching online reviews and forums. 

However, even customer reviews can be fake, particularly those that are over-complimentary and at odds to the many other reviews posted.  Consider the number, frequency, and nature of reviews before deciding whether to deal with a business.

Buying online

If you do decide to go ahead and buy something:

  • make sure the website you’re on is authentic and the payment page secure by checking that the address starts with ‘https’ and there’s a closed padlock in the address bar
  • try and pay by debit or credit cards which offer a degree of protection
  • avoid bank transfers, which are a preferred method by scammers
  • watch out for emails or texts from parcel delivery firms telling you to open an attachment for your delivery note - a real delivery firm wouldn’t send you that
  • be cautious about links or attachments in unexpected emails or messages
  • be careful the goods aren't counterfeit 
  • always read the small print if you see 'free' or 'low-cost' trial goods
  • if it's events tickets, make sure you only buy from official websites
  • always log out of an online shopping account once you've paid

If a business tells you that you have to make a transfer as their card facilities are down, then try another company.

How to complain about online shopping

Anyone who wants to complain about an online shopping experience, or feels that they are a victim of a scam or suspect a scam, should contact Consumerline either by phone on 0300 123 6262 or online.

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