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How to shop safely online this Black Friday


It's Black Friday this week and with Christmas just around the corner, many of us are getting ready to take advantage of some of the great bargains that retailers are offering, all without braving the queues in-store.   

But as more of us use online shopping, fraudsters are finding more sophisticated ways to scam us out of our hard-earned cash. During the pandemic, Which? revealed that online shopping and auction fraud went up by 65%, costing victims around £69m. 

To help you shop safely online, we’ve put a few top tips together so you can avoid any nasty surprises when you checkout: 

Use trusted websites and retailers

A good rule of thumb is to only use reputable, recognisable retailers when shopping online – if there’s a website you’ve never heard of selling the thing you want at an unbelievable price, then chances are it’s a scam.

Similarly, if you’ve had a text or email about an amazing offer that doesn’t seem legit, don’t click the link as it could be a phishing attempt. Instead, search for the item on a website you trust or type it into your search bar.

If you're unsure, search for the retailer on a review website such as Trust Pilot to find out what other people's experiences are with them, and if it doesn't look right, then avoid.

Protect your details 

Modern online payment methods like PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay are a good way to stay safe as retailers never see your details when you buy. These services are free to sign up to and are really convenient for shopping online. 

Look for the padlock

When paying for items online, take a second to look at the top of your screen to see a locked padlock:

This icon means that your connection to the website is secure. If you don't see this icon, then don’t proceed with your payment.

Don’t give out too many details

When paying for something online, you should only enter the details you need to complete the transaction, usually marked with an asterisk.

Lots of online retailers will even let you checkout without registering for an account, which is a great way to avoid giving out more than you need to, especially if you don’t plan to shop there very often.

You should also be wary of saving your payment details with websites unless you use them a lot. Again, using services such as Google Pay, PayPal or Apple Pay will allow you to do this and without the site seeing any payment details.

For more on shopping safely online, visit: 

National Cyber Security Centre. 

Age UK’s guide to smart shopping 

Take Five – how to spot a purchase scam 

Natwest: latest scams and how to stay safe over Christmas