Over the past 3 years, 15.3 per cent of us have fallen victim to an online fraud - but keeping an eye out for subtle hints will prevent you from becoming a victim. Get clued up and enjoy the convenience of online shopping worry-free by looking out for these tell-tale signs.
1. Avoid online fraud by looking for padlocks
When shopping online, look for the https in the web address and the padlock icon. These indicate that the site is authentic and secure. If you can’t see these, it’s probably not safe to continue.
2. Avoid online fraud by researching the price
Look for the RRP of a product on sites you know are genuine. Bogus bargains are an easy way to spot a scam, such as an advert tor offer where the discount is significantly below the normal price.
3. Avoid online fraud by checking for a third-party accreditation
This is very important when spotting holiday scams. Avoid holiday booking fraud by ensuring the company you are using is a member of a recognised travel authority that offers financial protection and a complaints service. Verify whether a company is a member of ABTA or ATOL by checking online at www.abta.com.
4. Avoid online fraud by checking for phishing emails
When it comes to spotting a fake email, check that the address is legitimate and that its not been subtly altered. Hover over the display name which will show you the senders full email address. Try to see if the email address has been changed from .co.uk to .org or if it has additional numbers, characters or words in it. Legitimate companies will start their email with the customer’s name. Poor spelling and grammar are also a giveaway.
5. Avoid online fraud by keeping your social media account private
Many of us have a social media account, but these can leave us vulnerable to scams and fraud. Fraudsters often piece together information from your name, date of birthday and location and can use this to take out loans or even make online purchases in your name. Check your privacy settings aren’t set at ‘public’ and change them to ‘friends only’.
What should I do if I spot a scam?
If you receive an email inviting you to click on a link or download software, never click on it. Just deleted it. If a fraudster impersonates a retailers, bank or company, contact them to that they can warn other customers, too.
If you’ve spotted a scam on social media, report it to the site management. Most sites feature a ‘report’ button and the more people who report it, the more likely it is to be removed.
Where can I get help if I’ve been a victim of online fraud?
Firstly, you should contact your bank or credit card company. They can help you try to recover the funds and if necessary, freeze or block your account and change your passwords to prevent any further losses.
Always contact Action Fraud. A central point for information about fraud and cybercrime – they will pass fraud reports on to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
How can I best protect myself from online fraud?
Keep your social media accounts private. Fraudsters often piece together information from your name, date of birth and location and can use this to take out loans – or even make online purchases – in your name. Check your privacy settings aren’t set to public and change them to friends only.
Fight the fraudsters by creating a good password – this will make it harder for scammers to access your account. Make them at least ten characters long, with a mixture of numbers and cases and remember to change it regularly (ideally every 3 months).
Top tip: If you’ve already been a victim of online fraud, be cautious of follow-up scams. If it’s happened once, it’s likely that you could be targeted again by a different fraudster claiming to help you get your money back.
Tips from Laura Flack, head of Digital Safety at Barclays
- For more great consumer advice, see Yours magazine