Police Scotland - Online Shopping Advice

Date Posted: 4th of December 2018

Continuing in a series of articles, Police Scotland would like to share some simple advice to our readers in relation to remaining safe and secure over the festive period. This is the time of year where everybody wants to spend time with their loved ones and enjoy the season without having to worry about reporting an incident to the Police. Therefore, these articles will cover topics such as Home Security, Safer Shopping, Partying Safely and Online Shopping.
In the second of the four articles, we will be looking at ‘Online Shopping’.
This is the time of year where everybody is frantically trying to buy gifts for loved ones so that they have something to give over the Christmas period. However, did you know that a recent study has identified that 1.9 million cyber related fraud incidents have been recorded in 2016 and are on the increase! This could range from paying for items that don’t exist or for tickets that are never sent. It may also include sending money to fraudulent companies for services that you don’t need or buying counterfeit goods which are of poor quality. From a Police point of view, it has always been a complicated and time consuming process in order to identify who these culprits are. Therefore, if you do enter a transaction with someone online, you run the risk of never seeing your items or getting your money back. Remember, you work very hard and deserve to get value for money.
When you are shopping online. Ensure that you stick to trusted websites when buying articles or providing online payments. Always consider reviewing the ‘Secure Web Browser’ and ensure that the web address is ‘secure’ before entering your personal or payment details. If you have to purchase online goods from a website which you have little knowledge of. You should always consider looking for customer reviews, especially in relation to warranties, guarantees, purchasing or shipping. It is equally important to note that you should always check the terms and condition of the sale before committing to any purchase, allowing you to know your rights as the consumer.
Depending on how your payments are made could make all the difference. If you have been the victim of fraudulent activity, some banks may offer refunds if the purchase was completed using a credit card. Also, consider using online payment systems such as PAYPAL, AMAZON Pay or your online banking provider. Again, their terms and conditions will stipulate your rights as the consumer and what insurance is available.
It is always worth noting that any online purchases through 3rd party vendors may not provide the same guarantees or warranties as the host site. This is vitally important to be aware of given companies such as E-bay may direct you to a 3rd party seller. Remaining vigilant and following these simple steps will make all the difference.
Gumtree and Face-bay are another great ways to buy items locally or nationally. These items tend to be second hand or unused items which you can agree on the price and terms personally. If you see something you like on these web sites. Always consider meeting face to face in order to inspect the item before purchasing. If this is possible, have a think about where you are meeting and how much the item is worth. It is always best to maintain communication with the seller through the site and meet at their home address. Always avoid arrangements in carparks or public spaces. If the item you are purchasing is expensive and you have been invited to their home address to inspect. Always consider going along with someone else.
Buying vehicles online is a very common way to buy goods at a reasonable price. However, if you are purchasing vehicles online. Consider carrying out checks on the DVLA website to ensure that it is not stolen prior to arranging an inspection. Any trusted seller should be more than happy for you to arrange a vehicle inspection. Never take the condition of the vehicle at face value.
Counterfeit goods are on the increase online and sometimes it looks too good to be true in terms of value for money. Although these articles do look attractive both is style and cost. It is worth noting that you could also be in trouble for knowingly purchasing stolen or counterfeit goods.
A 2017 OECD Report on counterfeit trade in the UK found that almost 4% of all UK imports in 2013 were counterfeit, worth £9.3 billion. This translates to around 60,000 jobs being lost and almost £4 billion in lost tax revenue aside from any consumer harm issues, fraud and further targeting of individuals for other forms of crimes like fraud, identity theft and malware.
Always look for the tell-tale signs such as key words like ‘New’, ‘Unused’ and ‘With Tags’. The cost of the item is another tell-tale sign. How many people do you know buy an item brand new, only to sell it and at more than 50% off? I would always recommend engaging with the seller, ask some questions about the ‘reasons for selling’, ‘where they bought it from’ and ‘how long ago was it purchased’. If you are in doubt about the items for sale being legitimate. You should report the seller through the web page or Trading Standards. If you think the items are stolen, you should contact Police Scotland on ‘101’.
Remember that all consumers’ advice can be found at the Citizens Advice Bureau office or website.
For more information about online shopping and other topics this festive period, please join us at;
Thanks for reading and have a safe and secure Christmas.


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