Christmas shoppers advised to beware of online fraud

London Trading Standards is concerned about the capital’s Christmas shoppers putting themselves at risk of online fraud this season.

The advice is to take your time and do your research before you click that ‘buy’ button. This follows new research showing that more than two thirds of online shoppers surveyed leave out key safety checks, prompting fears they could be putting themselves at risk of fraud.

The research from National Trading Standards found that 68% of respondents tend to leave out at least one simple safety check when shopping online, such as:

  • Looking for signs that the website is using a secure encrypted connection
  • Looking at the returns policy
  • Searching for reviews of the seller

Reasons for leaving out these vital checks included:

  • Being in a rush (24%)
  • Because I am looking for the cheapest offer (23%)
  • Not knowing what to look for (21%)

Warning over social media purchases

Just under one in three people (28%) admitted to buying items from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – or websites promoted through these platforms. This is notoriously risky as they can be awash with:

  • Misleading advertising
  • Counterfeit and unsafe products
  • Subscription traps and other scams

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards said: “As Christmas delivery deadlines draw closer it can be tempting to rush your online purchases, but I would urge people to take their time and do simple safety checks before pressing ‘purchase’.

“These checks aren’t infallible, but by taking the precautions that are available to us we can make it less likely that we will end up with something unsatisfactory – or dangerous – under the Christmas tree.”

Leon Livermore, Chief Executive, Chartered Trading Standards Institute said: “Research like this is instrumental to the future success of trading standards services. With funding stretched dangerously thin, intricate knowledge of consumers’ online shopping habits means local services can focus their remaining resources to best support consumers in their area.”

Steve Playle, Spokesperson for London Trading Standards said: “We need Londoner’s help to clamp down on unsafe and fake products. If you believe that any online or face-to-face seller is selling potentially dangerous goods, or something you’ve bought has made you suspicious, report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or use our online consumer crime reporting tool.”