Christmas shoppers warned to be vigilant when shopping online for the best deal

As the latest research confirms that 74 per cent of customers are preparing to order their Christmas shopping online, Noddle, the free-for-life credit reporting service, is advising Christmas shoppers to be alert to the risk of identity theft and bogus websites this festive season.

The research commissioned by Callcredit Information Group and undertaken by YouGov* also found:

  • The majority of shoppers (77 per cent) plan to turn their backs on credit and instead use their savings and salaries to fund Christmas 2014.
  • While a huge 85 per cent say they will spend either less or around the same as last year –therefore potentially tempting shoppers to look for the cheapest price and risk using websites they are not familiar with and which may not be genuine.
  • Only 10 per cent of consumers confirmed they will use credit, a stark contrast from historical research conducted in 2013 when 30 per cent said they would fund their Christmas spending through additional forms of credit**.

Jacqueline Dewey, Managing Director – Consumer Markets, commented “Consumers are increasingly looking to the web to do their shopping and it’s a great place to find that special gift for someone at the best price. However, they should be mindful of which websites or apps they are giving personal details such as their names, addresses and card details to, as fraudsters look to create new and more sophisticated ways to obtain personal details”

As many shoppers now look to use the web to do their shopping it’s vital that they take sufficient care to keep their financial details safe. More organisations are now providing easy access to their online services through the provision of apps. However this also provides an opportunity to fraudsters who set up bogus ‘apps’ in order to capture personal information on the premise of providing goods and services.

Jacqueline continued “It could be tempting to buy from a website because it offers the cheapest deal, however if it looks too good to be true then it probably is. Your credit report is one of the first places it could become apparent that you’ve been a victim of identity theft, but worryingly our research also confirmed that 61% of people said they never check their report. At a time of year when we might shop more than normal online, exposure to dishonest websites or apps increases and therefore consumers should monitor their credit report closely, which can be done free-for-life with Noddle”

To give shoppers a helping hand, Noddle has compiled their top tips for keeping safe on the internet:

- Check that the site you’re buying from is secure and that it uses encryption

It takes a matter of seconds to tell whether a website is secure, If the address bar says ‘https’ instead of ‘http’, and if there is a locked padlock symbol in the address bar, that means your payment details will be encrypted

- If you’ve not used the site before, look for a contact address and phone number

Even if the site looks secure, there is still no guarantee who is on the ‘other side’ of the screen. Ensuring that there is a valid address and phone number to contact in the event of a problem, such as your order not arriving, can give you greater confidence.

- Keep your anti-virus and firewall software up to date

Although on its own this won’t fully protect you from online fraudsters, anti-virus software is a vital first line of defence.

- Avoid accessing sites through unsolicited emails

Scammers sometimes set up fake websites designed to look like the real thing, then encourage unsuspecting shoppers to visit through ‘phishing’ emails. Always check the address of the site you’re visiting before you make any purchases.

- If in doubt, don’t use the site

Many shoppers might be tempted to make a purchase from an unfamiliar website if they thought they were getting a significant bargain. But they could be gambling more than they realise. Shoppers who take a punt on an unknown website may think that all they stand to lose is the cost of the item they’re buying, but once a person’s details have been compromised; there is no telling what they can be used for.

- Check your credit report for suspicious activity

Your credit report provides a vital record of all your financial commitments, and can often be the first place suspicious activity is flagged up. If your report shows any accounts or addresses that aren’t yours, contact the credit report provider, who will provide help and support to get this put right. You can check your report free-for-life at Noddle.co.uk 

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,739 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 6th October 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

**Figures from OpinionMatters research 2013