Online shopping is the most convenient way to purchase goods nowadays since it saves your time and offers you a wider choice as you may visit 100 shops in an hour. It is always cheaper too, because an online seller does not have to pay rent for a brick and mortar storefront. After all, online shopping is great fun and a treat that you can give yourself at any time of your busy day.
However, despite its invaluable advantages online shopping is still a little bit riskier than buying from a brick and mortar shop. Below are 7 checks you should perform to stay safe and have fun.
1. Check the website security
First of all, you should check if there is an “s” after http in the website address (https://) as this “s” indicates that the connection to the site is secure and your data cannot be intercepted in transit.
Secondly, look for a picture of a closed padlock when you proceed to payment. If there is no such picture, it means that the connection is not secure.
Often only the payment process (checkout) is secured with HTTPS, which means that your credit card data cannot be captured by third parties.
It is common to have the entire checkout process performed by payment gateways like Paypal or Shopify Payments, respectful big players in the world of online shopping. Stay alert, but do not worry if you are redirected to a different Internet address, such as paypal.com or storename.myshopify.com.
In this case even the owner of the online shop has no access to your credit card data, which adds to your security.
Of course, your computer must be updated with the current version of efficient antivirus software.
2. Check the business
If you are buying from an Australian company, check if ABN is indicated on the website, spend a couple of minutes to check the ABN with the Australian Business Register.
Look whether there is a phone number in contact details. Phones are not anonymous in Australia - the phone company always keeps the owner’s data.
If you are buying from an overseas trader, at least avoid companies that are not giving their telephone number and physical address.
3. Check the conditions
Before pressing the “pay” button read the terms and conditions, warranty, and delivery time. Even if you are absolutely fond of the product and eager to buy it anyway, make sure that there will be no unpleasant surprises. Pay special attention to the return policy and decide if it is acceptable for you.
Australian law requires online sellers to have their terms and conditions and privacy policies easily available on their websites.
A company should declare what data will be collected from you and for what purpose. Avoid giving your personal information (especially if it is not necessary for completing a purchase) such as date of birth if it is not clear how it will be used.
Be careful when choosing passwords and keep your account information private.
5. Check the price
Make sure there is no hidden cost. Postage, taxes, packaging, and handling may be added after you put your goods into a cart. If buying in a foreign currency, check the exchange rate. Sometimes companies set up their own rates which are different from the bank rate.
Stay away from excessively cheap products. Excessive cheapness is suspicious and it may be a scam.
6. Check the product
Avoid traders who are not giving clear pictures of the goods. If there is only one picture and it is too small to see the details, you may receive a product that in reality looks differently from what was presented on the website.
7. Check your bank statement
Look through your credit card statements regularly and contact you bank immediately if you notice a transaction you did not perform. Payments by credit card are quite safe since you have the right to a chargeback if you became a victim of a scam. With PayPal payments there is an extra level of security. Despite the fact that you will need to go through a dispute process first, you are also entitled to a chargeback and PayPal most likely takes the side of a buyer than that of a seller in almost all doubtful cases. Print out or save on your computer all documents that confirm your purchase.
Related link: ASIC Australian Securities and Investments Commission