Safe online shopping: your rights and the risks

Shopping online? Know your rights and the risks.

Close up mature couple with laptop online shopping

Shopping online is offers both convenience and the opportunity to save money, but it does come with some risks. When your money’s at stake, it pays to understand your rights before you open your wallet.

Here are a few tips for safe online shopping:

Pay securely
Make sure you’re using a secure website that allows you to make a secure payment. A secure web address will begin with ‘https://’. If you see a web address beginning with ‘http://’ this is a good indication that it may be fraudulent and you should steer clear.  

You should only make a payment on a website that displays the image of a closed padlock, usually at the bottom right corner of the screen, and that gives you at least two payment options, such as a secure credit card payment and PayPal.

Research the product
The internet is a great place to purchase branded products more cheaply than they are available in Australia. Perhaps you want to buy a new pair of Nike trainers that you tried on in the store. Make sure that you are familiar enough with the product that you will be able to spot any replica or fake versions online. Never buy anything from a website that doesn’t provide a comprehensive description of the item and supply convincing photos. 

Before you buy online make sure to check whether:

  • the item is legal
  • the item will work in Australia (DVDs, gadgets)
  • any warranties, guarantees and refunds will be valid in Australia
  • the product will be easily repaired in Australia
  • an import permit is required.

Know the price
Some websites use little tricks to hide the cost from you until the last minute. You should be fully aware of the cost of your purchase and any additional costs. If purchasing from overseas, you should also check if there are any additional taxes and tariffs.

Some extra costs may include:

  • currency exchange rates
  • taxes
  • postage and delivery fees
  • packaging.

Keep records
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Once you’ve placed your order, write down any reference numbers and print or save digital copies of the receipt and order form (before and after confirmation of the order).

Also confirm that all charges are correct against your bank statement, credit card statement and merchant account statement (such as PayPal).

Remember that charges on your statements may be different if they’re converted from another currency.

Use your instincts
At the end of the day, you should trust your gut about a website or seller. If the website seems unsafe, the seller is being too pushy or the sale price is too good to be true, it probably is. Never release your bank details, credit card number or other personal details to a person or website unless you are 100 per cent certain it is reputable. 

Have you had any terrible experiences shopping online? Do you have any tips for safe online shopping?



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    17th Jun 2016
    Yes i've tried to buy some nice boots i would have loved, and couldn't get the right sizing, Cause USA have such different sizes, i couldn't even deal with the company direct, i did it via a friend of a friend, who i found out couldn't really speak much english, and the whole thing went down the tubers.. I had to send the boots back, they didn't fit at all!! To my disappointment.
    and some things i tried to buy on line, i found they also added 15% because i was buying it online. Gee Why bother. So i won't buy much of anything online now.
    Totally disappointed with the thought of it even! I just won't do it. If i can't try it, and makes sure it fits I ain't buying it, simple.
    15th Dec 2016
    There is no denying the fact that online shopping has made shopping incredibly convenient. But shopping online can lead to fraud and theft for those who have not taken the necessary precautions beforehand. To prevent this from happening, here are a few key tips and tricks to keep in mind:
    Update your OS and Internet Browser More Often
    As long as you keep your OS and internet browser up-to-date, there is very little for you to worry about. It is important to note that updates fix vulnerabilities, which would otherwise serve as great targets for hackers and cybercriminals.

    "Any deal that is too good to be true, probably it isn’t. Be cautions every time you encounter such offers (or emails)." – Rahul Kashyap
    Take Advantage of an Anti-Virus and Firewall Program
    An anti-virus and firewall program allows users to defend themselves against hackers and cybercriminals. Unless you wish to become a victim, it is a good idea to invest in the best anti-virus and firewall program out there. Rest assured, it will be worth your time and money.

    Deal With Reputable Vendors Alone
    When shopping online, it is necessary for you to deal with reputable vendors alone. There is a reason why reputable vendors come highly recommended, and it has more to do with the fact that they will do whatever it takes to keep their customers satisfied, which obviously means protecting them at all costs while shopping online. This should explain why such vendors have highly secure sites.

    Stay Clear of Suspicious Emails
    No matter how tempting of an offer an email may contain, you need to realize that they are phishing scams at best. Make sure you verify before you actually go ahead and provide confidential information. However, even then it is a good idea to stay clear of such emails entirely. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

    Review your Statements Regularly
    Apart from the aforementioned tips and tricks, it is also important to review your statement regularly. At the same time, it is equally important for you to keep a complete record of all purchases made so far, including purchase receipt and confirmation pages. Compare all available receipts with your bank statements and report all discrepancies that you come across.

    Even though shopping online is a breeze and secure than before, there is no harm in taking precautionary measures just to be on the safe side, and the tips and tricks mentioned above will help you accomplish just that.