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Protect Your Data: 10 Expert Tips for Secure Online Shopping in 2024

May 2024 by

In the last year alone, there has been a 32% increase in online purchase scams reported in the UK. With more and more shoppers preferring to shop from the comfort of their own homes, online scammers are finding it easier than ever to grift people out of their hard-earned cash.
With this in mind, has provided 10 tips on how to avoid online purchase scams, and what to do if you fall victim to one.

How to identify and avoid scams when shopping online
1. Use safe and reputable websites: Stick to well-known and trusted e-commerce platforms. You should always look for secure URLs (https://) and read customer reviews before entering any information into a website you are unfamiliar with.
2. Research the seller: If you’re buying from a third-party seller or a smaller website, research the seller thoroughly. Check for reviews, ratings, and any red flags in customer feedback. Always check reviews on third-party sites rather than on the site itself.
3. Look for secure payment options: Use payment methods that offer buyer protection, such as credit cards or reputable payment services like PayPal or Stripe. Avoid direct bank transfers or sending money orders.
4. Check for contact information: Ensure the website provides clear contact information, including a phone number and physical address. For UK websites, you can further check the business’s information on the Companies House register. Be wary if this information is missing or hard to find.
5. Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals: If the price of an item is significantly lower than on other websites, it could be a scam. Compare prices and be cautious of unrealistic discounts - especially for big-ticket items.
6. Read the fine print: Before entering any information into a site, review its return policy, terms of service, and privacy policy. Make sure you understand the conditions before making a purchase as you don’t want to be stuck with an item you can’t return.
7. Use strong, unique passwords: Protect your online accounts with strong, unique passwords. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites. An easy way to do this is by using a password generating and storing service such as Google Passwords to generate and keep track of passwords.
8. Monitor your bank accounts: Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorised transactions. Your bank may also allow you to set up alerts to notify you of suspicious activity.
9. Enable two-factor authentication: If available, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for an added layer of security on your accounts.
10. Keep your device’s software up to date: Ensure your computer, browser, and antivirus software are updated regularly to protect against malware and phishing attacks.

What to do if you fall victim to a scam
1. Contact the seller: In the first instance, you should try to resolve the issue directly with the seller. Provide evidence of the transaction and any communication you’ve had, as this may be useful down the line if you need to take further action.
2. Report the scam to your payment provider: If you used a credit card or payment service like PayPal, report the fraudulent transaction immediately. They may be able to reverse the charge or help you recover your money.
3. File a legal complaint and notify your bank: Report the scam to your local consumer protection agency or a relevant government body, such as Action Fraud. If you provided banking details, inform your bank to monitor for suspicious activity and potentially freeze your account. Keep records of all communications, transactions, and steps you’ve taken. This documentation can be helpful if you need to pursue legal action.
4. Change your passwords: If you created an account on the scam website, change your passwords for any other accounts that use the same or similar passwords.
5. Seek legal advice: If the amount of money lost is significant, consider seeking legal advice to explore your options for recovering the funds.

A spokesperson from comments:
"To safeguard against online purchase scams, it’s important to stick to reputable websites, use secure payment options, and remain vigilant for deals that seem too good to be true. If you fall victim to a scam, act quickly by contacting your payment provider and reporting the incident to consumer protection agencies."

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