Shopping on the internet

Shopping on the internet is growing and now you can buy virtually anything online. As we become more confident with the world of e commerce we can also become careless with our personal information. Here are some simple steps you can take when shopping online to protect yourself, your card details and your identity.

Is the site secure?

When you first go onto a website you will see http:// on the left hand side of your browser bar. As soon as you are requested to put any personal information in, or to log in to a site of which you are already a member, this should become https:// at this point you should look for the padlock symbol on the page.

Is the web address correct?

Is the address on the browser bar of the website still exactly the same as the web address you typed in the first place. If you searched for the website by entering keywords in a search engine, are you sure that you’ve been directed to the right website? Fraudsters will set up replica sites which look and feel exactly like the real site, but will be purely a way of capturing consumers’ private data.

Is there a green bar?

A number of websites now have a green bar on the left hand side of the browser that shows you are entering a secure website and that all the content between your browser and the website will be encrypted. It’s important to know that the presence of this green bar on the website does not mean that your entire online experience is secure.

Do you know who owns/operates the site?

If you’ve found the website by searching for generic keywords then you may have found a company that you haven’t previously heard of, and not have any prior knowledge of its validity or reputation. If that is the case, you should do some research into them.

Does the site use Paypal or a similar third party payment system?

Payment services such as Paypal ensure that the vendor never sees your card details. If the vendor offers this method of payment you should consider using it because of the security benefits.

Is your computer sufficiently protected?

Do you have anti-virus software and a firewall that you update on a regular basis? Your computer may have security weaknesses and you should always ensure that you are sufficiently protected when you go online. It is better to do your online shopping on your own computer, or a trusted computer, rather than from an Internet café or other public computer.

Delivery issues?

The Consumer Contracts (Cancellation, Information and Additional Charges) Regulations require a seller to delivery your order within 30 days (unless you are happy to wait longer). If your delivery is delayed past 30 days and you are not happy to wait any longer, you are entitled to cancel the order for a full refund, which you should receive within 14 days of cancelling your order.

Help if things go wrong

Call the national consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 for assistance, if you have any complaints about the business you have dealt with.

Trading Standards Team

Trading Standards Team contact information

  • 0808 223 1133 (freephone) - Consumer advice and complaints

Civic, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ