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Millions will fall victim to these online scams this January. How you can avoid being conned

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
Jan 5, 2018

Shopping online can be a great way to bag a bargain – but, unfortunately, millions of people get scammed out of their hard-earned money. 

A third of online shoppers fall victim to fraud every January, and on average they lose £113 each, latest research shows.


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The shocking stat comes from an analysis carried out by loan brokers, Norton Finance

So, here’s advice from the experts that can ensure you don’t get caught by the scammers.


1. Check websites

Q: How do you tell if a website is unsafe?  

A: Look for the padlock. 

If you can't see a SiteLock Trust Seal – the padlock to the left of the address bar on your web browser – then leave that website straight away. 

It only takes a second, but can save you time and money in the long run. 

IMPORTANT: If a website does have a padlock, it is not a guarantee the site is legit. You still need to check other things. 


2. Avoid shopping at sites you’ve never heard of

Sometimes it pays to stick with what you know. 

According to the survey, 19% of people would consider buying from a website they hadn't heard of, if the deal was good enough. 

However, the result for many is they end up with fake goods, or worse - not getting anything at all. 


3. Ask yourself: is the price too good to be true?

If a deal seems too good to be true – it probably is!  

Everyone loves a bargain, but it could be money down the drain if you're not careful. 

Don’t be fooled by so-called "sales", especially involving designer goods and high-value electronics, such as smartphones, speakers and headphones.

Look at other websites and compare prices. If you’re being offered a radically different price to the figure on the brand’s official site, be very wary. 


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4. Change your passwords 

This is one of the first things you should do if you have been a victim of fraud. In fact, you should do it anyway, on a regular basis.

Shockingly, 50% of scam victims don’t even bother to change their passwords. 

This leaves them vulnerable to further cyber-attacks and identity theft. 


5. Never assume you won’t be a victim

Think you’re too smart to fall victim? Think again. We're looking at you, 18 to 24-year-olds. 

Yes, young people are far more likely to be targeted by scammers than older people. 

Almost half of 18-24-year-olds have been targeted by online scams, as opposed to just over a quarter of over 55s. 

Don't assume you have nothing to worry about just because of you're young and online-savvy – scammers don't care how old you are, and they have the tools to reel you in. 


6. Never ignore tiny charges on your bank statements and mobile phone bills

Small and frequent charges can easily be missed – but can quickly add up to a significant amount. Plus, they indicate something is very wrong ­– someone has accessed your account!

If a payment is a mystery, always follow it up.

Fraudsters are increasingly taking smaller amounts of money from victims and doing it over a longer period of time to avoid detection. 

Check your account and flag any charges that look suspicious with your bank or mobile provider. 

The charges don't always have to be from fraudsters either: you might be charged for something you didn’t even realise you’d signed up for.  

Have you filled out a credit score or loan form? You might find you’re charged "membership fees" for logging into a site. 

Monitor your account and never let little payments go by without knowing what they were for.

READ MORE: 'Why is money coming out of my bank account?' - Currys PC World's product support woes


7. Listen to your bank!

A whopping 41% of people are actually warned by their bank that something isn’t right with their account – but then they did nothing to follow up.   

The result – these people were then targeted by scammers.  

It can seem like a hassle, but banking technology is designed to keep your finances safe. If you’re warned something’s not right, don’t let it fall on deaf ears.

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