How to stay safe while shopping online

If you’ve bought something online this week then you are not alone – we are shopaholics. British shoppers spent more online in 2009 than any other country in Europe. Our online purchases accounted for 30% of European internet sales last year. Not only did we make the highest number of purchases, but we also spent the most too. We had the highest average individual online spend at £1,102 a year, according to a survey by the Centre for Retail Research.

Given the crummy weather in this country, it’s hardly surprising shopping from the comfort of your own home is gaining popularity. But with online scams also on the rise, make sure you stay safe when you shop via the internet. Before you even think about paying for anything, make sure you are shopping on a genuine, secure website. has vetted more than 4,000 shops and rated them according to security, delivery, range of goods and price.

When it comes to paying, make sure you are on a secure webpage by looking for a picture of a padlock in your browser bar and check that the web address starts with ‘https://’. If these things aren’t present, the page isn’t secure, so don’t enter your bank details.

For extra peace of mind, pay with a credit card instead of using a debit card or sending a cheque. Credit-card purchases are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which states that they are “jointly and severally” liable along with retailers for purchases. This means that if the goods you have bought are undelivered, or arrive faulty and they were worth between £100 and £30,000, you can claim the money back from your credit-card provider. You should try and get the money back from the retailer first, but if they refuse or even go bust, then turn to your credit-card provider.

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