With the global pandemic still in full force, more people than ever are working and sending money online. Of course, this brings plenty of benefits, not least the convenience. But it also presents some risk, especially with fraudsters aiming to cash in on the uncertainty brought about by Covid-19. As a result, it can be challenging spotting what’s legit when making a purchase or sending money online.
For safety and security, here are some things to keep in mind before you make an online transaction.
Do your research
Whether you’re looking to send money or pay for products online, make sure to research the company if they’re unfamiliar to you. A quick Google search will reveal any negative reviews they may have received—a clear sign that they might not be legit.
Also, for financial services, check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register to see if the company is listed. Companies House—the UK’s registrar of companies—is another useful website to refer to for businesses in general.
Ask the right questions
If you’re making a significant purchase online, it’s important to find out as much as you can beforehand. Check the delivery times, which shouldn’t be more than a week if they’re based in the UK or Europe. Also, find out about the returns policy—if there isn’t one then treat it as a red flag.
Similarly, when you’re making money transfers online there are key things to consider. Is compensation given if the money sent doesn’t arrive on time? If the receiver is unable to collect the money, will I be refunded? Does the receiver have to pay a fee as well? Be aware of such hidden costs before parting with your hard-earned cash.
We would say that, wouldn’t we? But with good reason. When you send money with us, you’re not only paying up to 90% less than at the banks—we’re as secure as them, too. We’re a licensed Authorised Payment institution regulated by the FCA and supervised by HMRC.
Our platform is also highly encrypted with institutional-grade security, and we apply rigorous onboarding checks and compliances, so you can rest assured that it’s totally safe. In fact, Money Transfers.com recently named us their most trusted money transfer service provider in their guide to sending money securely online.
Check the website is secure
Before entering your card details on any website, make sure it’s secure. How? By checking there’s a padlock icon at the start of the address bar. You can click on this and it will confirm that your information such as credit card details and passwords remain private on this site.
The website address should also begin with “https://”, the ‘s’ of which stands for ‘secure’. If the lettering is in green it’s another signal that the website is safe.
Watch out for phishing
Fraudulent emails—or phishing—is an increasingly common practice among criminals and something to be wary of. Often they’ll look like they’re from actual companies you’re familiar with, like Netflix or Amazon, suggesting some problem with your account.
Sometimes there are obvious signs such as a misspelling of the domain name, or the email itself being poorly written. But if that’s not the case, look out for the link they’re directing you to. Hover your mouse over it and if it isn’t a secure address containing the company’s name, it’s probably dodgy and should be avoided.
Stay safe online
Is your anti-virus software up to date? If not, you could be more at risk from fraudsters. It’s also important to use strong passwords that contain a mix of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. Never write your password down in full.
When you’re out and about it might be convenient to buy something or send money online using public Wi-Fi, although this can be dangerous. Often it’s not secure, so any personal details you send could be intercepted by criminals.
Opt for credit card
For substantial purchases online, using a credit over debit card is a safer bet. Why? Fraudsters will gain access to money from your account immediately if they acquire details of your debit card. It might be difficult to get it back—and in some cases, you may not.
With credit cards, as long as you tell your credit card company of the fraud before payment has gone through, they should be able to resolve the issue.
Take your time and trust your gut
Often, if someone encouraging you to make a purchase online isn’t legit, they’ll create a sense of urgency. They might suggest you must act today or else lose your account. Be wary of such language, and take the time to think it through and check the details.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As much as we’d love them to, companies don’t randomly select people to give away wads of cash. If you suspect something is amiss—and this might be halfway through a transaction—don’t go through with it.