How to spot the scammers coming


Q: ‘I like shopping online and I’m always on the lookout for a bargain, especially with Christmas coming up, but I’m worried about scammers. How can I avoid getting caught out? ’

A: While scams can be tricky to recognise, there are steps you can take to stop yourself falling foul to an unscrupulous scammer.
Remember, if it seems too good to be true then it probably is.
If you’re buying from a site you haven’t used before, do some research before hitting buy: firstly find the company’s return and refund policies so you know your rights if something goes wrong. You should also look up the company’s address (normally found in the website’s ‘contact us’ section) which should include a street name, not just a PO box. Also take some time to see what other people have said about the company. Look at different review websites – don’t just rely on reviews the company has put on its own website.
Scammers will often ask you to pay in unusual ways, or put you under pressure to buy, so do be wary of people contacting you out of the blue offering an item for a quick sale or with a special deal.
If you do fall victim to a scam, don’t feel ashamed. Scammers are clever and they regularly adapt their methods, making them harder to spot. And do report it, as this alerts authorities to scammers’ techniques and prevents others from being taken advantage of.
You can report a scam to Citizens Advice or to Action Fraud. If you’ve transferred money in the last 24 hours, contact the police via the non-emergency number 101 – but if you feel unsafe use 999. You should also contact your bank to let them know you’ve transferred money.

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