Five Questions About: Safer online shopping

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The Independent Online

What are the dangers of shopping online?

For most people, internet shopping is problem-free and allows you to track down the best deals without traipsing up and down the high street. But there are risks.

Perhaps the most obvious is the threat of identity theft as a result of someone stealing your credit or debit card information. However, you also need to be aware of your rights if you buy goods that don't show up or are not as they were described on the site.

How do I know which internet retailers to trust?

The best way to guarantee a hassle-free shopping experience is to stick with the big name brands that you regularly use on the high street, although sometimes the best prices are available through unfamiliar retailers. When that happens, take the time to read reviews from other customers. If you're shopping on an auction site, such as eBay, look for good feedback.

How do I know I am on a safe website?

Look for a padlock symbol in the window's frame and check that the address begins 'https' rather than 'http', as this denotes a secure web page. Make sure that your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as this protects you from threats within your own PC.

What are my rights?

You have the same rights online as on the high street, so feel free to complain and return poor or faulty goods. You are also entitled to a seven-day 'cooling off' period. That means that, unless the item has been made to your personal specification or is perishable, you can change your mind as long as you do not remove the wrapping.

Can I protect my purchases?

When you use a credit card to make a purchase worth between £100 and £30,000, the provider becomes jointly liable with the retailer. That meansthat, if something is wrong or the retailer vanishes or goes out of business, you should still be able to get your money back.

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