Tips for safe 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?

Related articles:
Nine websites that help you save
Six scams to watch out for in 2016
Seven smart ways to save money

Amelia Theodorakis
Amelia Theodorakis
A writer and communications specialist with eight years’ in startups, SMEs, not-for-profits and corporates. Interests and expertise in gender studies, history, finance, banking, human interest, literature and poetry.
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