Four ways to shop safely online this weekend

Four ways to shop online safely this weekend

Almost half of adults plan to buy their Christmas gifts online, leaving them open to cyber-criminals keen to take advantage of a rush for bargains.

It's not small change either. With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday upon us (OK, so they seem to have been running for weeks already), fraudsters are expected to steal almost £19 million this weekend.

See also: What to look out for when shopping online

See also: The best deals online and instore for Black Friday 2016

Already this year 4.5million people have been forced to cancel debit and credit cards after online fraud, according to research by The average stolen in each case was £475.

So how do you make sure you're not going to get scammed in the sales and keep #XmasReady?

Here are four ways you can shop online and reduce the risk of having your money or personal information stolen.

Use a credit card or PayPal

If something costs more than £100, paying by credit card gives you some extra protection if the goods fail to show up. This is down to something called Section 75 – part of the Consumer Credit Act – which means the credit card company has to refund you if the initial retailer isn't legit or goes bust.

For cheaper items, you might be able to claim with Chargeback, though there is no guarantee you'll get the money back.

If you're on eBay, it's wise to use PayPal. Though you don't get Section 75 protection, it does mean you don't share your bank or card details, and it does come with its own buyer protection.

Pay attention to your browser

In your internet browser address bar, the most secure websites will start with HTTPS. The S stands for "Secure". A normal HTTP address doesn't have the same protection of your details.

Look for the padlock symbol too, which will also be in your browser – not on the webpage itself. The address bar also turns green on some browsers.

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Quick Cash Finder

Only shop with retailers you've used before or know already

It's not that difficult for scammers to create a site which looks professional. All they need to do is tempt you in with an offer that seems too good to be true and you're ready to part with your cash to nab the bargain.

Stick to shops you know are safe and you'll be able to avoid this risk.

Don't click through from emails

You're no doubt getting more and more emails about the Christmas sales; probably more than you have time to read!

If one does stand out, don't click through from the email as there's a chance it's a fake email. Instead type the shop's web address into your search bar, or go via Google.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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