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Crime prevention Hertfordshire

Online shopping and auction frauds

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The benefits of online shopping are clear – it’s quick, easy and gives you access to a huge range of goods and services.

Unfortunately, this is also the area where Hertfordshire sees the highest volume reporting of fraud – and these scams affect all ages.

Online shopping

  • Paying by credit card gives you greater protection under the Consumer Credit Act.
  • If a scammer tries to complete the sale off a legitimate site, you’ll lose any payment protection from that site.
  • Establish an unfamiliar company is legitimate before purchasing – look for independent feedback and that it has a physical address and contact details.
  • You can conduct a ‘who is’ search on websites here to find out when a website was created and who the owner is.Be wary of newly formed domains.

Online auction sites

  • Be clear on what the shipping and delivery costs are before you buy.
  • Use a login name that is different from your email address.
  • Understand what the auction company can do (and won't do) if something goes wrong.
  • Look into the feedback mechanism on the site – is the seller you are buying from trusted?
For more detailed information, visit this page.
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Here’s a true-to-life example provided by Hertfordshire County Council's Trading Standards:

A middle aged lady in Garston saw an online pop-up advert for a no risk trial for skin cream. The only cost was £4.50 for postage and packing. She gave her credit card details, paid her £4.50 and received the cream. However, she noticed a charge for £80 on her credit card statement a few weeks later from the same company. Hidden away in the terms and conditions of her purchase was an agreement that unless the trial was cancelled, a further pot of cream would be sent every 30 days with a charge of £80. The company is based abroad so it is difficult to make them comply with the law that says that those charges must be made upfront before making the decision to transact. It is also incredibly difficult to stop those pop-up adverts.


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