Shopping online can be a great way to save you time and money.
But some deals and websites are used to hide scams.
The safest way to buy online is with your bank or credit card. Your card will help to protect your money should anything go wrong.
Fraudsters often want you to pay directly to a bank account or by wire transfer. But it’s like handing over cash and is hard to trace.
If you pay one of these ways and it turns out to be a scam, it’s very hard to get your money back.
Tips to buying online safely
We all want to find amazing deals online, but even a bargain costs money. When prices on a site are a lot lower than other sellers, it could be a scam.
Fraudsters can send a text or email with a link to a great deal. This may take you to a fake site or infect your device with a virus. If you get a message like this, don’t use the link. Use a search engine or your browser to try to find the deal to make sure it’s real.
Ask questions before you buy. If a seller can't give any details about an item or tries to hurry you into paying, it’s a sign of a scam.
Take your time to check reviews to make sure a site or deal is genuine before you choose to buy. Lots of good reviews from different buyers are better than mixed, bad or no reviews at all.
One of the first things you can do to make sure a website is real and not fake is to check the address.
Look in the browser bar to see if the address is spelt correctly. Fake sites can use names that are close but not the same as the real thing, like Lioyds and not Lloyds.
To visit a site, it’s safer to type the address into the browser bar than to click on a link.
Once you’re on a site, see if the pages look normal. If the layout, colours or logo don’t look quite right, it could be fake.
Before you fill in personal or banking details on a site, look for the closed padlock image. You can find it in the browser bar. It means the link to the site is secure.
A secure site will also have https:// at the start of its address.
But please note, these do not mean a site is genuine. So make sure you're happy with a site before you log on, fill in any details or pay.
Never enter your bank PIN or password on a site or in an email.
If an item is large and expensive, like a car, don’t pay for it until a seller hands it over.
Fraudsters may invite you to look at an item then ask you to pay before you can pick it up. Once they have your money, they'll disappear.
If you have to meet a seller in person, try to take a friend with you. It’s safer that way, especially if you have to pay by cash.
To stay safe online, you should make sure that all your devices:
- Use an anti-virus - Install it and keep it up-to-date. Try to scan for viruses at least once a week and follow the advice. It should tell you when a site is unsafe to visit, or a file is unsafe to open.
- Use a firewall - Keep it on at all times. A device won’t be as secure if you turn it off.
- Keep up to date - Make sure you update your devices operating system, internet browser and software as soon as updates are available. This will help to protect them from the latest scams.
You can get straight forward, impartial advice on how to avoid scams from Take Five.
You can report a crime or get general advice from Action Fraud. They help banks and other companies combat fraud.
They offer advice on how to keep yourself and your devices safe from fraud.
UK Finance is there to support customers and to help make sure it's safe to bank.
Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)
The PRA is part of the Bank of England. Their role is to make sure banks act safely and reduce the chance of them losing money.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The FCA is there to make sure banks work well so customers are protected and get a fair deal.
CIFAS can help to protect your identity. They can stop fraudsters from using your details to apply for things in your name.
This is a government site that gives advice on how to stay safe online.
This is part of the FCA site. You can use it to check on an investment or pension deals to help you avoid scams.
Lloyds Bank does not control the content of third party websites linked to on this page.
- Read all the details - Before you buy, read all the details about an item. Does it match what it says in the title and picture?
- Be careful of free trials - If you agree to a free trial, check to make sure that you don't have to pay for it later on. Look for the terms that may be hidden in the small print.
- Check the small print - Terms and conditions can be found in the small print. They should tell you about any hidden costs, as well as delivery and returns information.
- Know where you're buying from - Check the location of a seller, especially if they're not well-known. It's easier to complain and get your money back from sellers that are based in the UK and EU.
- Search for FAQs - Most online shops have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page. This can help you quickly find key information.
- Keep track of what you buy - Check your bank account often to make sure you know what all your payments are for.
Important legal information
Lloyds Bank plc. Registered office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales No. 2065. Lloyds Bank plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 119278.
Eligible deposits with us are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). We are covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
Personalisation. We will always greet you personally using your Title and Surname. We will never use ‘Dear User’ or ‘Dear Valued Customer’. Where you hold an existing account with us, we will quote the last four digits of your account number, such as your current account, savings account or credit card. If you don’t yet have an account with us but we have your postal address details, we may use part of your postcode. Internet Banking-related emails may also include your Internet Banking User ID.
Links. All links within our emails will go to a page on www.lloydsbank.com, or to trusted Government regulatory websites (e.g. Financial Ombudsman, Financial Conduct Authority, etc). Research emails may take you to a partner research company website but you will not be asked for any Internet Banking log on details.
In fraudulent emails, website addresses may appear genuine on first sight, but if you hover your mouse over the link without clicking, it may reveal a different web address. On our genuine emails the link address always starts with email.lloydsbank.com or www.lloydsbank.com. We will never link direct through to our Internet Banking log on page or to a page that asks for your security or personal details.