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6 ways shoppers can stay safe this Boxing Day

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be behind us, but it won’t be long before bargain hunters and sale-savvy shoppers gear up for round two during this years’ Boxing Day sales.

A staple in the retailers and shoppers calendar, the Boxing Day sales are an opportunity for consumers to snag an end of year bargain – and for businesses to make millions. In fact, UK shoppers spent as much as £3.74bn last year.

With so many of us rushing to secure bargains, it can be easy to fall for a scam. Almost a third of consumers (31%) admit they are more likely to take a financial risk if they see an attractive offer. Such risks can leave you seriously out of pocket, so it’s vital to protect yourself. Here are our top tips for staying safe this Boxing Day.

1) Stick to retailers you know and trust

You (hopefully) wouldn’t buy a new TV from a shady-looking guy working out of a van, so why would you risk buying goods from a dodgy website you don’t recognise? The best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is to only purchase from trusted, well-known retailers.

If you spot a good deal, but haven’t shopped with the company before, you may want to read some independent reviews first, to ensure they are reliable and trustworthy.

2) Make a shopping list

Boxing Day sales are largely so successful for retailers because of the urgency and limited time offers. However, this can often mean shoppers buy items they don’t need, simply because ‘it seems like a ‘good deal’. Next thing you know, your wallet’s empty - and you still have Christmas bills to pay off.

Before the big event, sit down and decide which items you want to purchase on Boxing Day, then do some research around them. Read product reviews, to ensure they’re exactly what you’re looking for, and make a note of current prices.

If you’re looking to buy electronics, especially items like TVs and computers, make a note of the product’s model number. Some retailers use end of year sales to sell off old stock, so it can be all too easy to accidentally buy the wrong model.

3) Look out for HTTPS

HTTPS example.JPG

A link beginning with HTTPS, rather than HTTP, is secure, as it ensures your data is encrypted. Most internet browsers will indicate a HTTPS connection is in effect by displaying a padlock symbol. Whether you’re checking your bank account, or nabbing a Boxing Day bargain, always look out for this icon before giving a website any personal information.

4) Use a secure payment method

Always avoid direct money transfers when buying products online – stick to a secure payment method, such as debit or credit card, or PayPal. Credit card is arguably the most secure option, as it’s often easier to dispute the charges made if the item is fake, cost more than you agreed to pay, or never arrives at all.

Some scam sites will advertise that you can pay by PayPal, but then remove than option once you’re going through the checkout process. This may indicate they are trying to acquire your card details for fraudulent means – do not continue with the payment process in this situation. Contact the company instead.

5) Check your antivirus software is up to date

Whatever device you’re planning to do your shopping from, make sure it has a decent antivirus programme installed, and that it’s up to date. Antivirus software will help you identify fake websites, and protect you from malware, should you click on a dodgy phishing email or advert.

Don’t rely solely on antivirus, though. Protect yourself by avoiding clicking on links you’re unsure of or downloading attachments from email addresses you don’t recognise.

6) If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is

Scam sites are on the rise, and falling victim to them can be devastating. You could end up with a fake, useless product, or the item may never arrive at all. Worse still, the criminals behind the scam site may now have your personal or bank details.

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An example of fake Pandora website

This is why it pays to do your research; consider what a reasonable, believable discount would be. If you’re still unsure, Google the website’s name and look for verified, independent reviews. Ultimately, it’s best to avoid shopping with any retailer you do not recognise.

Be sure to check the URL of the site, too. Some fake sites imitate the real thing, including the URL – for example, eBayz.co.uk could be a fake version of eBay.co.uk. Again, look for the padlock icon to ensure you’re on a genuine, secure website.

Feefo: reviews you can trust

We only collect reviews from genuine customers, so you know the feedback you’re reading is from real shoppers, just like you. Feefo reviews are therefore an excellent trust signal, whether you’re researching retailers beforehand or in the midst of grabbing a bargain and want to read individual product reviews. Whatever deals you’re searching for this Boxing Day, stay safe and good luck!