Fraudsters will advertise goods or services that don’t exist or aren’t theirs to sell – or they’ll try to mimic existing websites in order to appear genuine. Always be vigilant when you shop online. Taking just one precaution alone isn’t guaranteed to keep fraudsters away, so it’s best to take a broad approach and follow as many of our tips as you can.
How it could happen to you
- An email, text or social post pops up touting a special offer or deal you like the look of, and you click on the link.
- The webpage you land on looks authentic and appears to belong to a well-known brand or high-street chain you like, or seems genuine enough to belong to a new company you’re comfortable enough to try out for the first time.
- Enticed by the offer, you type in your bank details and agree to pay what’s asked.
- Your item or goods never arrive, a follow-up phone call is never answered and you can’t get hold of anyone at the firm. You’ve lost your money.
Stop, think and act
Be cautious with links
Never follow a link in an unexpected email, text or social media post. If you’re using a desktop or laptop, hover your mouse over the link to see if it is a genuine address. Carefully check the spelling in the URL to make sure it’s legitimate e.g. barcleys-bank.co.uk is incorrect – the real URL is barclays.co.uk. Even with major high-street brands, be sure to look carefully. Fake web pages can look like genuine sites, with clever twists such as .shop or .service inserted to make it look real. Where possible, go ‘the long way around’ to a website via a search engine rather than click a link.
Do extra research on companies when you’re buying for the first time
Check out the seller to be confident they’re genuine. Try a number of different product or service review websites to gauge opinion on their quality, and avoid those with poor ratings. Look for a phone number, address and social media account, and see if it publishes a returns policy. Be suspicious of poor grammar or spelling, or if you can’t find a single review of the company or its goods – most will have some sort of internet presence. Insist on viewing high-value items, such as cars or motorbikes advertised on online auction sites, before paying.
Put in payment details with great care
Use a computer, laptop or smartphone that’s protected with up-to-date security software. Always use secure ways to pay such as your credit card or PayPal, and only enter your card details on secure sites. The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. However, this only indicates that the link between you and the website owner is secure, and not that the site itself is authentic. Check the address for any subtle misspellings, additional words and characters, and other irregularities.
Don’t pay via a funds transfer from your bank account, and especially not to someone or a company you’ve never met or heard of.
Always log out after shopping and save the confirmation email as a record of your purchase. As a rule, don’t type in your card details on shared or public computers e.g. in a library.
Use extra security when prompted
As soon as you receive a Barclays Visa debit card, you’re automatically registered for Verified by Visa. We’ll occasionally ask you for some extra security info to verify your purchases when you check out online. This’ll protect your card from unauthorised use.