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Expert provides advice for safe shopping online

12 December 2012 - 09:40 by Simon Crisp

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Each year UK consumers have to foot a 30 billion bill for online fraud, according to a report in The Sun. Depending on which sources you use, that is about the same amount that we will spend in total on Christmas 2012.

Thirty three per cent of online fraud goes down during the festive season, largely because people are so active on e-commerce sites.

In order to alert people to the hazards of web-based retail and advise them on the best ways to carry out safe shopping online, expert Steve Proffitt has handed down some tips.

Mr Proffitt is the head of Action Fraud, which is an organisation dedicated to rooting out the fraudulent operations that impact upon UK consumers.

His first piece of advice is to simply use your common sense and actually check out the credentials of any e-commerce company that you have never heard of, before you shop with it.

He said that people should not pay for products by bank transfer, particularly if offered via an online auction house user, because this can typically lead to being affected by fraud.

Consumers have certain rights protecting them when they shop online, so if the item you have purchased does not reflect the way it was portrayed at the point of sale, you can get in touch with Action Fraud, to find out what steps you can take to seek compensation.

There are thousands of entirely reputable e-commerce sites and individual sellers online, but it pays to be vigilant at this time of year, because con artists are also going to come out of the woodwork and try to dupe unsuspecting consumers.

As long as you think carefully and avoid deals that are too good to be true, you should be able to get all of your Christmas shopping done without any hiccups.