I HOPE you are all keeping welldespite the problems caused by the lockdown.
This week, Citizens Advice is running a national Consumer Week project at a time when consumers across the country are all turning to online shopping in the run-up to Christmas. This is especially timed for ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday.’
We are trying to raise consumer awareness of resources and protections available to help people when they need it, especially when it comes to online shopping and delivery. Shopping online can be a great way to buy things you need, but it is important to make sure that you are doing so safely. There are a few easy steps that you can take to help protect yourself.
Before you buy anything, take a few minutes to research the company or website you’re using. Read reviews from different websites and search for the company’s details on gov.uk - this will tell you if they’re a registered company or not. And pay by PayPal or by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong.
Be wary of unofficial sites offering big discounts and make sure you’re buying from the retailer’s official website. And remember - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
Scammers may present themselves as a trusted business, using links in ads or emails to direct you to a fake website. Don’t click on any links you don’t trust.
Make your online shopping accounts secure. Try using three random words to create a long and strong password. Use a strong password for your email accounts, passwords that you don’t use
You can find out your rights and more about National Consumer Week at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/NCW20.
In addition to parcel delivery issues, this year online buying is prompting scammers and fraudsters to increase their efforts to take advantage of consumers searching (desperately) for bargains. UK Finance data shows that 25 to 34-year-olds are most likely to shop online regularly but, whatever your age, be on your guard whenever you are online via laptop or mobile phone. Watch out for all those phishing emails/texts and calls as attempts are made to get us, as consumers, to provide personal financial information.
These messages often advertise cheap goods and could involve fraudsters impersonating genuine organisations and businesses.
The first UK-wide lockdown led to reports of rising numbers of scam and fraud attempts, and there is clear evidence of a further rise in scam attempts during this current lockdown. Best advice is:
Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe
Challenge: Could it be fake? It is OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you
Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you've fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud
You can get advice on all types of scams from a Citizens Advice Scams Action adviser by calling 0808 250 5050.
The service is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. We're closed on bank holidays. Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice 0344 493 0012. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/
Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line
0800 144 8 444. Their website address is – www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk