Online Christmas shopping: 5 ways to avoid scammers

Online Christmas shopping: 5 ways to avoid scammers

Scammers take £800 from woman with voucher scam

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Christmas shopping can be a headache for many Britons. A lack of choice and the prospect of long queues have persuaded many to turn their backs on the high street. Millions will opt to shop online for their presents this year, but Christmas could be ruined if you fall victim to the thousands of online scams. Express.co.uk has spoken to cyber experts to find out the best ways to keep your funds and personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

Online shopping has soared during the pandemic and now experts are warning of a potential “scamdemic” over the festive period as cybercriminals look to take advantage of naive Christmas shoppers.

A staggering 33 percent of UK consumers say their trust has decreased for retailers as a result of a scam, according to research by Callsign.

On average, reports of online shopping scams rose by more than 70 percent during the prime holiday shopping season according to Comparitech.com.

To avoid the Christmas blues here are the top five ways to dodge online scams.

Be cautious of online adverts

Paul Bischoff, security and privacy advocate for Comparitech.com recommends Brits take extra care before they consider being something promoted in an online advert.

He told Express.co.uk: “Don’t click on ads. If you want to buy something in an ad, search for it on Google or a reputable store. Online ads are often fraudulent or misleading.”

Question product availability

Scammers are expected to take advantage of ongoing supply chain issues this year.

Mr Biscoff said: “Desperate shoppers might resort to websites they might not normally trust in the hopes of getting that PS5 or iPhone 13.”

But he warned against using unknown sights in a bid to secure your loved ones their most wanted Christmas gift.

To avoid these scam sights he urges shoppers to “look for official company information like an address, contact info, and terms of use page, as scam sites often lack these.”

Check where you are sending your money to

Mr Biscoff said: “Never send payment outside of official channels.

“If a vendor on eBay asks for payment outside of Ebay’s official payment system, for example, it’s probably a scam.”

Try to use secure payment platforms such as PayPal, legitimate sites should accept standard payment methods such as credit cards.

Be careful if sites try to make you use odd payment methods, such as cryptocurrency, wire transfers, or gift cards if those are the only options.

Look for high ratings

To avoid scam sights, Marcel Hollerbach, chief innovation officer of Productsup, recommends shoppers check any reviews posted on any websites they intend to use.

Most online stores offer a customer reviews or comments section toward the bottom of product listings.

Mr Hollerbach told Express.co.uk: “Always read through feedback provided by other shoppers to determine if they had a positive experience with the seller.

“Brands and products with higher volumes of customer feedback are more trustworthy than those with a lack of evidence of successful purchases.”

Check the site is legitimate

It can be hard to work out if a site is legitimate, but the following factors should act as a warning sign:

  • Errors in the site’s URL
  • The site should have HTTPS
  • Check for spelling errors on the website

How should you act if you have been a victim of an online shopping scam?

If you believe you have been the victim of an online shopping scam you should act immediately.

Contact your bank and cancel your card as soon as possible.

Be sure to dispute any unauthorised transactions quickly.

If you have lost money to scammers and your bank can’t recover it make sure you report this to the police.

 

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