Smart online shopping

When you shop online, make sure you are smart about the whole purchasing process-know who you are dealing with, know what you are buying, be confident you will get what you have paid for, and ensure that your account and credit card details are being dealt with safely.

There are many advantages to shopping online-you can shop at any time, you don't need to worry about parking and your purchases are delivered to your door! Online auctions can be a lot of fun and can also help you find good deals.

But there are some security traps to watch out for. Use your common sense and some simple steps to ensure your online shopping is as safe as possible.

Top tips
  • Be wary if the website looks suspicious or unprofessional or makes unrealistic promises. Bargains which look too good to be true often are. 
  • Know what you are buying. Read the description of the product carefully-check the size, colour, value and safety of the product. 
  • Read all the fine print. This includes refund and complaints handling policies. 
  • Check the currency, postage and handling and other charges - there may be extra charges you aren't aware of. Only pay via a secure web page-one that has a valid digital certificate.
  • Use a secure payment method such as PayPal, BPay, or your credit card. Avoid money transfers and direct debit, as these can be open to abuse. Never send your bank or credit card details via email.
  • Always print and keep a copy of the transaction. Keep records of any emails to and from the seller. 
  • Always conduct transactions within the auction website. Avoid private contact or payment directly with buyers or sellers-scammers will often use this ploy to 'offer a better deal.

Use your common sense and trust your instincts

Most shoppers know the warning signs to look for when buying something in a shop-the same applies to shopping online. Be wary if:
  • the website looks suspicious or unprofessional
  • the website is offering bargains which look too good to be true, they often are, or
  • you are not confident about their use of your information or that you will get what you pay for.

Before making the purchase
  • Know who you are dealing with-check that contact details are correct.
  • Know what you are buying-read the description of the product carefully-check the size, colour, value and safety of the product.
  • Read all the fine print including refund and complaints handling policies.
  • Check the currency, postage and handling and other charges-there may be extra charges you aren't aware of.
  • Check the final cost before paying.

Making the payment
  • Use a secure payment method such as PayPal, BPay, or your credit card. Avoid money transfers and direct debit, as these can be open to abuse.
  • Never send your bank or credit card details via email-only via a secure web page.
  • Always print and keep a copy of the transaction.
  • Only pay via a secure web page (one that has a valid digital certificate) Look for the https at the beginning of the address bar and a locked padlock in the browser. It should look like this:-