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Q552: Have you got any tips for purchasing goods online and do they only apply when bought in the UK?

Buying and selling items on the internet has become increasingly popular as it is quick, easy and offers the widest range of choice. Though online shopping may be more convenient, there are a few simple steps to follow to ensure you stay safe while doing so:

  • Always buy from a reputable site, read through their terms and conditions and always remember to log out when you have finished!
  • If using an internet auction site, check the seller's reputation and take time to read the guides issued by them
  • If goods are advertised substantially cheaper than elsewhere then be careful as it may not be genuine
  • If buying from a private seller make sure you have full contact details and not just email and mobile phone number
  • Be wary of sending cash and money order. It is advisable when paying over £100 to use a credit card as it offers the best protection in case anything goes wrong. If you are asked to transfer money via a company like Western Union, the money can be withdrawn anywhere in the world (if you know what to do).
  • When entering payment details make sure the website is secure; a small padlock should appear at the bottom of the screen and the URL should read https://- the 's' stands for secure. Paypal (see related information) is a popular way of paying for items on sites such as Ebay as money is transferred between two electronic accounts.

Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud reporting centre; if you come across something suspicious when shopping online or something seems too good to be true, you can report it via their website. Additionally, the UK European Consumer Centre (UKECC ) provides free and impartial advice for anyone who experiences problems when purchasing goods in other European countries. Please see links to this and Action Fraud in the related information section.

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