One of the main areas in which the Internet has revolutionised our daily lives is shopping. From the comfort of your computer you can buy books and CDs, do your weekly grocery shopping, even order a pizza! Not to mention you can find rare items you'd never be able to find in the shops, quite often at amazingly reasonable prices, and all without having to deal with hordes of people in your nearest shopping centre.
However, it also pays to take precautions, as the Internet is much more difficult to regulate than the High Street, so you can find yourself receiving the wrong goods, nothing at all, or even worse, become the victim of online fraud.
These are our tips for shopping online safely:
- Pick reputable sellers. If you're new to shopping online, it can be best to stick to names you recognise from the High Street, or big online retailers such as Amazon.co.uk or Play.com. That's not to say there aren't plenty of other sites out there offering great deals, but try to get a personal recommendation before you buy
- Look for evidence of a physical address and phone number and review the returns policy
- Pay by credit card. Credit cards offer a far greater level of protection against online fraud, and ensure that if it does take place, fraudsters won't be able to empty your bank account
- When you enter your card details ensure that the website is secure - the address should start https:// and there should be a padlock in the window of the browser itself. Make sure you can click on it and check that the seller is who they say they are
- If a deal online looks too good to be true, it probably is. There are some amazing deals to be had, but there are at least as many unscrupulous operators trying to earn a fast buck from innocent web users
- Do not buy anything from Spam mail. This is a golden rule - if you receive an unsolicited email from a company you've never heard of, no matter how good it sounds, it's almost certain to be a scam.