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Paying Safely Online

Shopping online has grown in popularity over recent years. Unfortunately, this has also increased opportunities for fraudsters. The tips on this page aim to help you minimise the chances of becoming a victim of online fraud.

The key to tackling online fraud is prevention. Consider the following points before you buy over the internet:

Protect your computer

Make sure that your computer has the latest anti-virus software and firewall. Ensure that you also regularly download security updates for your operating system.

Make sure that your browser settings are set to the highest level of security

You can check and change these settings by accessing the 'Tools' menu within your browser.

Restrict access to your computer

Restricting who has access to your computer can also help prevent online fraud. Consider using a login password, and lock your computer when you are away from it for any length of time. Ensure you use secure wi-fi networks with an encrypted connection, and if you are using a public computer, such as in an internet cafe, take care with your password and consider changing this when you get home.

Be wary of spam emails

Some emails can contain viruses which can damage your computer, or be a phishing email designed to trick you into providing your personal details. It is therefore important that you activate the junk mail filter on your inbox so the likelihood of you getting these emails is reduced. Avoid opening any attachments from an unknown source.

Sign up to Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode

These secure payment systems allow you to register a password with your card company, reducing the risk of someone being able to use your card fraudulently. You do not need a new card or extra software to use the scheme. Further information is available from your bank.

Only deal with reputable sellers 

Use sites that you know you can trust, or that have been recommended to you. If you are unsure, use a search engine to look up reviews to get some feedback.

Know who you are dealing with

Always access the sellers website by typing the address into your web browser. Never go to a website from a link in an unsolicited mail and enter your personal details. Check the sellers details on their website, such as their postal and email address.

Trust your instincts

If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be suspicious of prices that seems too low. Never disclose your PIN or passwords to anyone.

Keep a Record

Print off copies of your order confirmation, and keep them along with the retailers terms and conditions, return policy, delivery policy and full contact details (make sure this isn't a post office box or mobile number). Having this information will make it easier to sort out if anything goes wrong.

Consider using your credit card instead of your debit card

If you use a credit card to buy goods and services above £100 but below £30,000, you will have extra protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This states that if a problem arises, such as the company going out of business, you can claim your money back from your credit card company.

      Useful Links:

      The following sites provide further information about buying safely online.

      Financial Fraud Action UK

      Get Safe Online

      GOV.UK Consumer Advice