How to spot online shopping fraud? 5 top tips to stay safe online

online shopping
Since people have been in local and national lockdowns across the globe, the use of the internet has accelerated at an incredible rate. Many meetings are now held online using apps such as Zoom, and food and retail shopping have almost completely gone tech-first.

While it greatly benefits reducing the spread of the virus, it has, unfortunately, meant lots more people are experiencing fraud and scams due to spending more time online.

Following Safer Internet Day earlier this week (Tuesday February 9th), a survey conducted by Uswitch shows just how people really feel about staying safe when they’re spending time online – revealing that 2 in 5 of us have fallen for an online shopping scam.

When viewing new sites, signing up to a newsletter, or even inputting details to order a product, most websites take our personal details to keep us engaged with marketing content, get in contact with us, and also provide them with insight data. With that said, over a third (34%) of people don’t think companies handle their sensitive data responsibly, and nearly a quarter (24%) fear their personal information has been compromised.

Since lockdown, ‘romance fraud’ – which refers to someone being scammed for their money by a person pretending to be interested in a romantic relationship – has risen by 20%. This raises questions: how many people know how to spot a fraudster? Do they know how to stay safe online?

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Uswitch data shows that 1 in 5 of us don’t know how to protect ourselves online, and with over half (54%) of the survey respondents revealing they receive spam emails, there is certainly the need to teach online safety to internet users.   

Says Nick Baker, broadband expert, at

“If our personal details are placed in the wrong hands and shared on the dark web, this can be pretty dangerous. Before we know it, thousands of hackers could have access to our bank details, private information and passwords. It goes to show that when spending time on the internet, users should be mindful of what they’re sharing, and where.

“There are, however, several ways to avoid having your details hacked and shared on places like the dark web, which will allow you to search on the internet safely using the most popular browsers available.” 

5 top tips to stay safe online

  1. When making online payments, check the website is safe. Secure sites start with ‘https’, which means they have an SSL certificate (this enables websites to have a secure connection from the server to a browser). Look out for the padlock symbol in the search bar before you make a purchase.

  2. Ensure your virus software is up-to-date. If you don’t have adequate antivirus software, your details could be hacked without you realising.

  3.  Keep your passwords varied, using a range of characters in upper and lowercase, and include symbols. This makes your password stronger and less likely to be hacked.

  4. Don’t click on a link or open an attachment from anyone you don’t trust, whether that’s in an email, text, or on a website.

  5. Reduce the amount of personal information you share online. This could include your birthday, a pet’s name, or your address, as these details could be used to guess your password. 

Chris Price