Posted on 18 Dec 2017
Six Questions You Should Ask Before Buying Online This Boxing Day
There will be no shortage of tempting Boxing Day sales offers this Christmas. Many of the country’s larger retailers will make eye-watering offers online too.
If you want to take advantage of the reductions from the comfort of your own home by shopping online, then Hannah Parsons, solicitor at DAS Law, suggests a few questions you should ask yourself to ensure you don’t get ripped off by online scammers:
If you’re just getting started with online shopping, you might be best sticking with bigger and more established sites – the same way you might feel more secure buying something in real life from a large chain retailer instead of a market stall.
You can try shopping with popular online retailers like Amazon, or use the websites of high street retailers like Tesco or John Lewis. You can feel secure in the knowledge that these are established companies who will not try to scam you and can be easily reached if you have a complaint.
However, while these sites do offer a wide range of products, they might not cut it if you have gone online to find something unique or unusual.
Trustworthy online retailers take measures to protect the privacy of their customers – when you’re providing personal details and bank card numbers over the internet, you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
Any decent online shop should have a Privacy Statement available, which tells you exactly how they store and use your personal data and what they’ll do to keep it safe.
Online retailers should also make sure that their checkout pages are secure, to protect your card details from being stolen. This is done with what is known as an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection. If SSL is in place, a small image of a padlock should appear in the address bar of your browser when you go to buy something. You may also notice that the web address begins with ‘https://’ rather than ‘http://’, indicating a secure connection. If you don’t see these things, that’s an indication that your personal data is at risk, even if the site isn’t an outright scam.
Another giveaway that an online shop might not be legitimate is that it simply doesn’t look very good. If a site contains large amounts of spelling errors or seems to have a lot of poor-quality images, it might be something that a scammer has thrown together in a hurry.
Even if it isn’t, it still shows that the person behind it may not be taking their business especially seriously, and might not be particularly concerned about whether their customers are happy with their purchases or not. Either way, this kind of site is best avoided.
A genuine business should have a registered address and contact details available on their website so you can get in touch. Of course, a convincing fake could also have these things, but a site that doesn’t offer any contact details at all should immediately raise suspicions. Even if they are a real business, it could be very difficult to get in touch with them if something does go wrong.
One way to find out if a company is trustworthy is to look for online reviews. Try searching for the company name on Google or another search engine and see what other people have said about it. Of course, there is always the risk that you cannot trust this information either, since it could have been written by anyone – but if you see multiple discussions on forums saying that a company is a scam, or see extremely bad reviews, it’s a safe bet that you shouldn’t buy from them.
Beware of sites that offer deals that seem too good to be true – for example, products sold for far less than you’d expect to pay. You might be receiving pirated or knockoff goods or inferior replacements, or they may simply take your money and not send you anything in the hope that you will not go to the effort of getting a refund.
Of course, buying online does often mean getting great bargains – but if a site you’ve never heard of is offering a product at a price that no other seller comes close to, this should be enough to set warning bells ringing in your head. At the very least, you should do more research before you commit.
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Notes to Editors:
DAS UK Group: www.das.co.uk
The DAS UK Group comprises an insurance company (DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Ltd), a law firm (DAS Law), and an after the event legal expenses division (DAS LawAssist).
DAS introduced legal expenses insurance (LEI) in 1975, protecting individuals and businesses against the unforeseen costs involved in a legal dispute. Today it has over nine million policyholders.
The company offers a range of insurance and assistance add-on products suitable for landlords, homeowners, motorists, groups and business owners, while its after-the-event legal expenses insurance division – DAS LawAssist – offers a civil litigation, insolvency, clinical negligence and personal injury product. In 2013, DAS also acquired its own law firm – DAS Law – enabling it to leverage the law firm’s expertise to provide its customers with access to justice, including legal advice and representation.
DAS is part of the ERGO Group, one of Europe’s largest insurance groups (the majority shareholder in ERGO is Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer).
DAS Twitter: https://twitter.com/DASLegalUK
DAS Facebook: www.facebook.com/DASUKGroup/
DAS LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/1210388/