From shopping to keeping in touch with loved ones, the ability to go online has made testing times a little easier for many us during the pandemic.

But as we spend time online, it’s important to make sure we stay safe.

James McCluskey, of our Trading Standards team, offers tips to help you stay safe on the web.

Know your rights

  • Find out who your contract is with – your rights will be different when dealing with a business compared to a private individual on a local selling page.
  • If you buy goods from an online business you have the right to a ‘cooling off period’, which starts the day you place your order and ends 14 days after the day you receive your goods.
  • Wherever possible, pay by credit card, as this will offer you more protection.

Do your research

  • Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from to .org.
  • Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to see what others have said.
  • Have a look at the terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all.

Check your tech

  • Keep your devices up to date by installing the latest software and app updates as these usually include important security updates.
  • Use strong passwords and keep them secure. If possible, use two-factor authentication, which will link accounts to a mobile number as well as a password.

Stay aware

  • Take care with links in emails and texts – some may take you to fake websites designed to get your personal information. If you are unsure of a link, find the company directly by searching for it.
  • Legitimate companies will not ask for lots of personal information, like your mother’s maiden name, in order for you to buy something. Be cautious if you are being asked to give away too much.

Report it

  • If you think you have been the victim of an online scam, report the details to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via Action Fraud.
  • If you have paid money, or are concerned about a suspicious payment, contact your bank for advice.
  • If you need practical guidance on what to do next, speak to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0800 223 1133 or via Citizens Advice.

And remember - if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Don't believe everything graphic