8 Basic Tips for Safer Online Shopping around the Coronavirus:

  • rely on official channels of information, such as the NHS or GOV webpages
  • watch out for fake websites that may look legitimate - (for more information on spotting a scam visit Stay Safe Online and Friends Against Scams)
  • when buying online, look for the contact details of the business. These should be easy to find and, for sellers based within the EU, a physical business address should be provided
  • look for reviews from existing customers before parting with your money
  • read the terms and conditions carefully to ensure you know what are buying
  • if you need to enter your details to find out more about a specific product or service, take a look at the company's privacy policy to find out how this data will be used. If they do not disclose this information, do not provide any personal details
  • follow the instructions to understand how the product or service works
  • Remember, you have the right to return most goods purchased online so make sure you are familiar with the returns procedure. 

Advice

Coronavirus has had a big impact on our everyday lives so it's not uncommon to feel vulnerable now and may even let our guard down when it comes to spotting scams. Here's our advice for staying one step ahead of the scammers:

  • always look for the padlock symbol when visiting a website. This tells you that any data you enter is secure
  • If you visit a website from a link in an email or text message, check that the website it takes you to matches the organisation or business. If in doubt, visit the website directly from your browser instead of using the link
  • If you are asked to pay for goods or services via bank transfer, this may be a red flag. Legitimate sellers will usually offer a choice of payment options. You should only pay for goods or services via bank transfer if you are satisfied with the legitimacy of the business, as these payments can often be unrecoverable should things go wrong 
  • check the grammar and spelling of a website. If this is poor, it could indicate the website is a scam

What we are Doing

The UK International Consumer Centre has no powers to take action against the scammers. That doesn't mean we can't help - in fact, the information on our database informs the relevant organisations of changing consumer behaviour.

The more enquiries we receive, the more we can feed back to enforcement bodies that do have the authority to take action. These bodies often do not have public-facing services so are reliant on the information provided by organisations such as ours.

Put simply, your enquiry to us will never be a waste of time - you can be assured that the information you provide us will go on to inform changes in law and enforcement of criminal behaviour.