Staying safe when shopping online

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Shopping can be confusing and it is easy to miss out on a good deal or get ripped off. Read this factsheet for some handy tips on how to stay safe when shopping online, or buying second hand good! If you’re ever unsure what to do, you should contact the seller and your bank for more information and speak to a trusted adult for help.

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Online shopping

  • Beware of scams!
  • Make sure your computer is secure by using a good, up-to-date antivirus or security program
  • If you are shopping on the go on a mobile device, beware of using public Wi-Fi or unsecured networks as scammers can be present.
  • Use websites that you know and trust. If you are purchasing from a website for the first time, do some research and check recommendations and reviews from other customers.
  • Check the website’s privacy policy for information you will be prompted to provide for the purpose of your purchase. Only supply personal information that is required for your purchase.
  • Be cautious of very low prices! Scammers usually advertise unbelievably low prices to attract victims to the scam. If you find a product that is priced very cheaply – compare against other retailers.
  • Keep copies of receipts and order confirmations.
  • Check the receipt/order confirmation with your bank account to ensure the amount charged matches.
  • Use a credit card or PayPal as these services offer protection in case the product isn’t delivered or there’s something wrong with it.
  • Never pay with a bank transfer or Western Union/MoneyGram services as they do not offer protection if something goes wrong.
  • When you proceed to payment, if a new window or tab is opened where you are asked to enter your payment details, ensure that the website is secured.  Does it have a padlock or key symbol at the bottom of your browser window and does it begin with ‘https://’instead of ‘http://’?
  • Watch out for credit card surcharges, currency conversion fees (if purchasing from an overseas retailer), postage and delivery fees, packaging costs and taxes. It might work out cheaper for you to buy the product in-store.

Second-hand shopping

  • Ask questions about the product.
  • Check the seller’s profile and any reviews given by past customers.
  • Never give payment details (e.g. bank details, credit card details) or passwords to anyone before first seeing what you are buying.
  • If you have arranged to meet someone to buy a product, always make sure you are in a safe place (preferably in public)

Fine print

You should always read the fine print! Fine print is usually used in advertisements (print, radio, television, online), contracts, labelling and signs. It involves:

  • Placing text in obscure locations
  • Using text that is too small
  • Flashing disclaimers on the screen for a very short time
  • Using voice overs that are too quick or quiet

It is common to see advertisements with limitations or disclaimers using an asterisk (*), ‘conditions apply’ or other requirements to limit the consumer’s expectations. If you are making large purchases it is always good to read the fine print or ask a parent/sibling to help you.

You can check out this factsheet for more information, or contact us here.

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