Reassura Guide: Shopping Safely Online

Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas we are all going to be buying even more than usual online. Sadly, fraudsters love this time of year for all the wrong reasons. Last year Action Fraud had 43,000 reports of online shopping fraud with average losses of £1348. Other research such that the number of unreported cases dwarfs those that are reported.

How to Stay Safe Shopping Online

  • Is the website secure? – Look for https:// and the padlock icon to ensure you are browsing secure sites, do not use sites without them.
  • Pay Safe – Always pay with a credit card when shopping online, they provide an extra level of protection should problems arise. Paypal, debit cards are not as safe and bank transfers are to be avoided.
  • Do you know the seller? – buying from a well-known site or shop offers a good level of protection from fake sellers etc. and is a good starting point, but make sure that it is the genuine website.
  • Unknown seller with great price? – This happens and is riskier. So:
  • Check the website is secure, as above.
  • Checkout reviews of the site with the likes of Trustpilot , feefo and Google few or poor reviews are a big red flag
  • Check where the seller is, buying from abroad effects your consumer protection, can lead to delivery delays and potentially unexpected customs fees.
  • If the site has weak spelling and grammar, avoid!
  • If you want to safely access smaller retailers, use established marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy as they offer payment services and resolution processes if things go wrong. Nb If the seller asks you to pay out side of the payment system- avoid!
  • Pay safe! Use a credit card.
  • Passwords – Use strong separate passwords for your online accounts. Strong passwords are at least 8 characters, with symbols, upper case/lower case letters and avoid self-identifiers. See our guide to safe passwords.
  • Browse Safe – Even how you browse can be a risk:
  • Google Chrome, Safari etc. need to be kept up to date. Chrome will notify you if a website you are browsing is not
  • Avoid using public wi-fi, fraudsters set up fake networks and intercept details, if you do need to use public wi-fi frequently consider using a paid for VPN which will encrypt your data.
  • Anti-virus Software. Make sure that you have it on your PC or Android phone, switched on and regularly updated.
  • Proof or Purchase – Keep all proofs of purchase, e.g. bank statements, email receipts, invoices, sales receipts, delivery notes, labels and packaging.
  • Returns /Cancellation Policy – In the UK, online customers have the right to cancel their order for a limited time even if the goods are not faulty this is known as “distance selling”. As a customer you should be offered a refund, if you return the product within 14 days. It is important to note, companies outside of the UK create their own returns policies, as a customer be aware of individual returns policies before you buy any product.
  • Naughty Cookies! – Some sites record if you have visited before and adjust prices upwards if you come back again. Remember, to clear the browser history and cookies from your device before you browse.
  • Double check – before you click buy now or check out. Ensure details such as; total amount, delivery address, size, colour etc. are correct to avoid the hassle of having to return items.
  • Shared Computer? Always sign-out of the website and clear your cookies to avoid someone else stealing your details.
  • Still Unsure – call Reassura 0800 888 6400 and one of our fraud advisor’s will help you to stay safe.


If you think that you may have been a victim of online shopping fraud:

  • Contact ActionFraud to report the crime and get a Crime Reference Number
  • If you have made any payment with your credit card contact your credit card provider’s fraud department
  • If you paid by debit card, contact your bank
  • If you’re worried about identity fraud and would like to protect your identity contact CIFAS


Reassura is dedicated to helping raise awareness of scams and fraud and the impact they have on their victims.  Reassura’s team of specialist anti-fraud advisors are on-hand to offer advice designed to help individuals make better informed decisions and avoid the unpleasant consequences of becoming a victim. For further information visit: or call 0800 888 6400