Online shopping can be convenient and save you time — but whether you’re shopping for your loved one’s presents, festive decorations or just treating yourself, make sure you take steps to protect yourself.

How you can be #ShopAware? Here’s our top tips to avoid scams and help you shop online safely this festive season:

1. Does it seem too good to be true?

If it seems too good to be true — it probably is. This is especially true for products which are ‘must-haves’ or are sold out in major retailers. It may seem like the perfect present, but you might end up with nothing.

Be wary of sites offering big discounts, and ensure that you’re buying from the retailer’s official website so that you know it’s a genuine product. You can find out if a company is registered by searching their details on Sole traders (someone who runs their own business) and partnerships (where two or more people run a business together) don’t need to register with, so you’ll need to do further research on their site to make sure they’re a genuine seller

2. Check you’re buying from a trustworthy retailer

Do some background research into the company. Start with an internet search about the retailer and have a look at their official website. Make sure you find their return and refund policies so you can understand your rights if something goes wrong with your purchase. Find out how they can be contacted, where in the world they’re based and whether they’re part of a consumer protection scheme.

Seeing what others say about the retailer can help you find out if it’s a legitimate seller or not. But remember to look into reviews on other websites too, not just their official website.

3. How do they want you to pay?

Be cautious when a seller asks you to pay by an unusual means such as in iTunes vouchers, crypto currency or via bank transfer. These are harder to track and lack the vital protections that you get when paying by debit or credit card or by a third party app such as PayPal. Whichever way you pay, make sure you check the terms and conditions to understand what you’re paying for.

We can help you understand your consumer rights and stay #ShopAware.

Find out more about your rights on our consumer advice pages and contact our Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline if you need more help.