FRAUDSTERS will use every trick in the book to part you from your cash.
Whether it’s fake holiday home listings, romance scams or bogus car deals, anyone can be caught out by their sophisticated ploys.
Research by Barclaycard found that more than half of Sun readers worry they will get caught out by crooks.
If you are unlucky enough to fall for a con your credit card can help protect you.
Here are 12 ways to keep yourself safe when shopping online:
Use a credit card for big purchases
The big advantage of paying by credit card over a debit card is what’s known as “Section 75” protection. This means that your credit card company is equally liable alongside the retailer if you buy an item over £100 that isn’t delivered or does not match its description. So if you are duped by a sham website when buying a TV, you can ask your card provider for a refund if it doesn’t show up. This is also great protection against retailers or travel companies going bust.
To make a claim under Section 75 you will need to first go to the retailer to try and get a refund. If they refuse you, you’ll need to provide evidence of their refusal to refund when you apply for a refund from your credit company.
Watch out for technicalities
While Section 75 is an amazing protection, there are some caveats. If the retailer you are shopping with uses certain third-party payment processing companies online or the store you’re shopping in uses them for their card payments then you might not be covered. You also won’t be refunded for purchases over £30,000.
If it looks too good to be true, it usually is
You will save yourself a lot of hassle if you don’t fall for scams in the first place. If the gadget you are looking to buy is substantially cheaper on one website than all the others, the chances are it’s a scam.
Check reviews before you buy
To try and help check if the bargain you have spotted online is genuine, ensure that the seller has plenty of positive reviews. This isn’t an exact science, it will just help you to make an informed decision.
Beware the email from your bank
Criminals will often try to steal your personal details or con you into making payments using so-called “phishing emails”. These can look identical to emails you receive from your bank or other trusted companies. But the UK Cards Association says your bank will never ask you to update your details by sending you a link, nor will it ever ask you to enter your four-digit credit card pin online or using the buttons on your telephone keypad.
If you’re asked to confirm a transaction that you haven’t initiated yourself then you should contact your provider straight away.
Treat special discounts with suspicion
Be extra careful when it comes to emails with eye-catching offers or deals forwarded to you by friends on social media. If they contain a click-through link there’s a chance they might be redirecting you to a site where fraudsters can steal your card details using malicious software.
Friends in need aren’t always friends indeed
Likewise fraudsters who hack into your email account can pretend to be friends or family members in need of help. Typically they will send messages that appear to come from one of your contacts asking to borrow cash for some kind of emergency. Ruthless criminals will exploit any situation and authorities are already reporting coronavirus-related scams.
Don’t fall for spoofs
Just because a text message appears to come from your bank or another contact you recognise, doesn’t mean that it is safe. So-called
“Spoofing” scams are so realistic that the messages from crooks will even appear in the same thread as texts you have already received from a trusted contact. Fraudsters can make phone calls appear to come from a particular number to impersonate your bank. Always say you will call back and ring your bank from a separate phone line using the number printed on the back of your statements.
Cancel cards if your details get compromised
If you believe your card details might have fallen into the wrong hands, for example if a website you shop with regularly has reported a data breach, ask your credit card provider to put a block on payments and send you a new card. Many providers will now let you block your cards or put a temporary freeze on payments from within your banking app.
Make sure websites are secure
When you are shopping online, make sure that the website has a padlock symbol in the web address bar as this is one of the online identifiers to show that the website is secure. The padlock must be in the address bar and not on the webpage itself, otherwise it is likely to be a con. Also ensure that the web address starts with “https” as the “s” stands for secure.
Keep on top of your credit file and check your statements
If criminals steal your personal details or clone your cards you might not notice them taking small amounts unless you check your statements regularly. Look up one of the free credit checking websites to make sure there aren’t any store cards or loans in your name that you don’t recognise.
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Don’t make payments when you’re on public Wifi
Never do your online banking or shopping when you are using a public Wifi connection.
If the connection isn’t secure fraudsters could intercept your messages and capture your passwords when you log in to sites.