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Top tips for beating online shopping fraudCreated by Verity in Spending wisely
More than 32 million of us now shop online, and we all need to work together in the fight against fraud. Consumers can play their part by regularly updating their computers’ anti-virus systems, looking for security icons on websites and registering with card protection initiatives.
Remember: if you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, wants to hear from you.
Common online scams
Shopping and online auction fraud (counterfeit goods and websites)
These frauds involve the misrepresentation of a product advertised for sale, the non-delivery of purchased products (e.g. those bought through an internet auction site), false brokerage, or fraudulent payment through a payment service provider (e.g. PayPal). Genuine companies and goods are sometimes misrepresented by fake websites.
Scam ticket websites
People purchase non-existent tickets from scam websites to events such as music festivals and theatre performances, believing the sites to be legitimate. However, after the tickets are paid for, they’re not delivered and all calls and emails go unanswered. Sometimes scammers will say that a customer representative will meet the victim at the venue on the day of the event, to deliver the tickets, but nobody turns up. Victims are left both out of pocket and unable to attend the event.
‘Phishing’ is usually done via instant message or email. Fraudsters try to trick people into providing sensitive information such as credit card details, passwords and usernames, by pretending to be a reputable organisation such as a bank, social website or auction site.
Alternatively, people are lured into fake websites where they enter information that’s then used by criminals for fraudulent purposes.
Slimming or miracle cure scams
These frauds involve health and medical-related products (e.g. consumer advertising for ‘miracle’ cures and weight-loss products) and fake online pharmacies. It’s unlikely that the products have been properly tested or proven medically effective; some might even be dangerous. The advertising often includes fake testimonials from ‘satisfied’ customers, unsubstantiated claims about product effectiveness, false claims about clinical tests and worthless ‘money back’ guarantees.
Five ways to beat online scams
1. Keep your PC protected by using up-to-date anti-virus software. Try to ensure that you have the latest operating system and web browser.
2. Shop only on secure websites. Before submitting card details, look for a padlock or an unbroken key symbol on your web browser.
3. Also check that the internet browser address changes from ‘http’ to https’ to indicate you have a secure connection.
4. Sign up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode when given the option. By requiring you to register a password with your card company, such systems provide an added level of security.
5. When buying tickets online, check with the venue to find out when they’re being released and sent out. Also check that you know the geographic address of the website company and that they have a working landline phone number. Make sure that there’s a refund policy in case something goes wrong.
Some useful websites
Action Fraud: The national fraud reporting centre wants to hear from you if you’ve been a victim of fraud in the last 12 months. They can provide advice and guidance on protecting yourself from this crime. Tel: 0300 123 2040
Be Card Smart Online: Simple advice on how to stay safe when shopping online.
Card Watch: Raises awareness about all types of plastic card fraud in the UK. Provides information to prevent fraudulent use of all sorts of cards: credit, debit, cheque guarantee, charge.
Get Safe Online: Detailed advice on protecting your computer, avoiding online rip-offs, and taking care of your identity and privacy.
Fraud Advisory Panel: Independent voice and supporter of the counter-fraud community in the UK.
Identity Theft: Website that has been produced by an impressive array of public and private sector bodies to combat the threat of identity theft.