Shopping safely online

An estimated seven million Australians shop online but this still poses a fear for many. Webmaster Drew has some handy tips for successful and safe online shopping.

Once the hurdle of getting online and deciding what to buy has been overcome, there is still the issue of knowing whether the site is reputable. When shopping on the high street, this is easy; big name stores rarely fleece their customers. But what happens when you’re faced with a virtual store and checkout?

Here are a few simple ways of verifying the security of a website:

• The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address of the payment (or checkout) page of a secure website will begin with ‘https’. The URL of an unsecure checkout page, however, will simply begin with ‘http’.
• A secure site will have an encryption system such as Verisign. This means your card details are jumbled after input, making it more difficult for fraudsters to intercept. A site running such a system will have a digital security certificate represented by a symbol which can be located on the checkout page. If you hover your mouse over the symbol, it will display the words ‘digital security certificate’.
• The checkout page of a secure site displays a closed padlock or an unbroken key, located at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
• Credit card providers are now offering an additional security check which requires you to enter a password before you’re able to complete a transaction. Only shop online using a secure computer. Publicly used computers located in places such as libraries, cafes and shopping centres shouldn’t be used for online purchases.
• Never shop from a site which you accessed through a link in an email.

You may wish to consider using a payment intermediary such as Paypal which is widely available, reputable and an easy way to pay for goods. Some sites will even offer free delivery, additional discounts or bonus add-ons when using Paypal as a payment method. For more details visit

As always, when transacting online, make sure your firewall is turned on as this will block suspicious sites accessing your data

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