Shopping and paying safely online

Money Advice Service

Online shopping is a great way to compare prices, find bargains and save money from anywhere with an internet or mobile data connection. But as its popularity has increased, so have the risks, with more and more people trying to scam you out of your money or steal your card details. Thankfully, if you follow a few simple rules you can have a safe and secure online shopping experience.

Online shopping safety tips

These are some really simple ways to shop safely online you can use every day:

  1. Research retailers online to make sure they’re legitimate.
  2. Make sure the website is secure.
  3. Know your rights and the company’s returns policy.
  4. Keep software and virus protection up-to-date and use strong passwords for online accounts.
  5. Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Your standard data connection is more secure.
  6. Pay using a credit card. You will have more protection. Alternatively, online services like PayPal mean scammers will not be able to get hold of your bank details.
  7. Be smart. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

You can find out more about these tips in the rest of our guide.

For more tips on keeping safe when shopping online, visit the Get Safe Online website.

How to shop safely online

Research the website and seller

There are thousands of websites to go shopping on the internet, many with thousands more independent sellers. The majority of these are perfectly legitimate, but spotting the fraudulent ones takes a bit of research.

If you’re using a website you’ve not used before, search for them online to see if they have any negative feedback. For independent sellers on a website, you can check out their online reviews on a site like TrustPilot.

Better known ecommerce websites are certainly more reliable, but can be vulnerable to pharming attacks. You can find out more about these later on. If in doubt, check Companies House, or, for financial services companies, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register.

Returns and counterfeiting

Top tip

If you’re buying an expensive item, check the manufacturers website to make sure you’re using an authorised distributor or seller.

There is also some information you should find out before buying online.

How long will delivery take and where is the item being sent from? A UK or Europe-based seller should be able to deliver within a week, if the item is in stock.

What is the returns policy? If they don’t seem to have one, you should be suspicious. Knowing what the policy is will help you if something is not delivered or arrives broken, even if the seller was not trying to scam you.

There is also a large online market for selling counterfeit goods. These can be hard to spot, even when you’ve got the product in your hand. But being aware of this and researching what the real thing would cost, will give you an idea of when an offer is too good to be true.

How you can tell if a website is secure

Only ever put your card details into secure websites. Be on the look-out for the following signs to know you are shopping safely. Remember, this only means the site is secure, not that the seller is honest.

Padlock symbol – There should be a padlock in the address bar next to the website address.

Website address – This should start with https://. The S stands for secure

Green address bar – On certain browsers and websites the address bar will turn green.

Valid certificate – If you click the padlock symbol or just to the left of the address bar, you should see information on the site certificate. This should tell you who has registered the site. If you get a warning about a certificate, avoid the website.

Learn more about secure websites on the Get Safe Online website.

What are website pharming scams

You should also be aware of pharming scams, where fraudsters attack the website you are trying to use.

It will appear as if you’ve gone to the correct website, but it’s a fake version designed to steal your information. Be on the lookout for strange looking web addresses with a selection of numbers or a different spelling.

Find out more about the different types of scams here.

Online security

There are several things you can do to keep yourself safe online.

Make sure your software and anti-virus protection is up-to-date. Updates often contain changes which help protect you and your devices from scammers and online criminals.

Always choose strong passwords for your online accounts, using a combination of upper case, lower case, number and special characters. Using a phrase or sentence is good practice.

Find out more about creating strong, secure passwords on the Get Safe Online website.

Wi-Fi security

Make sure the internet connection you are using is secure. Don’t use public Wi-Fi in coffee shops, shopping centres and other places to shop online, use internet banking or anything else requiring you to send personal information.

This is because public Wi-Fi is often unsecure, which means any information you send while connected to these networks can be accessed by fraudsters. Even your ordinary mobile data is more secure than public Wi-Fi.

Safest way to purchase online

Remember

Even if you pay using a credit card through PayPal, or similar service, you will not get the additional protection.

Protecting yourself when paying is very important. You might lose a bit of money if you buy from a fake seller, but you can lose a lot, or even everything, if your details get stolen.

Using an e-money service like PayPal is worth considering as you don’t have to give out your actual card details.

You can learn more about e-payments and how to use them here.

How you’re protected using a card to buy online

Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, paying by credit card will also give you added protection on purchases over £100 up to £30,000. This means the card provider has equal responsibility with the seller for faulty, unsatisfactory or undelivered items.

You might also be covered for purchases under £100 made on a debit or credit card under a voluntary scheme called chargeback. This allows you to claim a refund from your card provider if a purchase does not arrive or is faulty.

What to do if something goes wrong

The first step, if you have been sent the wrong or defective items, should be to contact the online seller and the website you used such as eBay or Amazon.

If you paid on card and you’re not happy with the retailer’s response, or you have received no response, contact your card provider.

Find out more about how to claim money back on credit cards here.

If you think your card has been used fraudulently let your bank know straight away so they can stop any further use of it.

As long as you haven’t acted fraudulently or negligently, you’ll usually get your money back from your card company if your card details are used online by a criminal to commit fraud.

If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam you can also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, use their online reporting tool or on the FCA Scam Smart website.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

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