Online shopping can be a convenient way to buy the things you want. Know how to protect yourself online, and what to do if you don’t get what you pay for.
What to look out for when you shop online
Not sure if you can trust a website with your personal information? Follow our simple steps to shop online with confidence.
Make sure the website is secure
Before you enter personal or payment details online, make sure the website is secure.
Signs of a secure website:
Your web address bar shows a closed padlock or key.
The web address starts with ‘https://’
The company has complete contact details, including a street address, phone number and email.
If you haven’t heard of the business, check reviews online to help you decide whether to shop with them.
Find out if the seller is overseas
If the seller is not in Australia, you may not have the same consumer rights. It could be hard to contact them for a repair, replacement or refund.
An overseas seller might charge you an international transaction fee. Also make sure to check if you will be charged an international transaction fee by your credit or debit card provider.
Avoid being charged two fees: check if your credit or debit card provider charges a fee for overseas transactions.
Take care with buy now pay later
Buy now pay later service, like Afterpay, Humm or zipPay, let you pay for something in instalments. You might pay every fortnight, instead of paying the full amount upfront.
You don’t pay interest on the purchase. Instead you’re charged fees. It’s easy to overspend or lose track of how much you owe. So make sure you can afford the repayments.
Find out about buy now pay later services.
Know your rights as a buyer
Read the terms and conditions carefully, including:
the returns policy
postage or delivery fees
any packaging or handling charges
local currency costs, such as currency conversion fees if the purchase is from overseas
any international transaction fees
any import duty or taxes
Check your bank statements
If you shop online, check your credit or debit card and bank statements regularly. Make sure you’ve been charged the right amount.
If you see something you don’t recognise, this could be a sign that a scammer has your personal details. See banking and credit card scams to find out the signs of a scam, how to report it and get help.
Know your consumer rights
More and more purchases are made online, so make sure you know how to protect your money and your personal details when shopping online.
What to do if something goes wrong
Sometimes, even when you’re careful, things can go wrong:
You don’t get what you pay for.
It’s not in good condition.
You’ve been overcharged.
Follow these steps to get a refund or exchange.
1. Know your rights
Visit the ACCC’s online shopping page to find out about your rights as a customer.
2. Contact the seller
Check the seller’s website for details on how to contact them or make a complaint. It may have been a mistake — if so, explain the issue to them and suggest how they can fix it.
3. Call your bank
If you used your credit or debit card to shop online but didn’t get what you paid for, contact your bank. They may be able to give you a chargeback.
If you used a PayPal account, follow PayPal’s dispute resolution process.
4. Contact the ACCC or consumer affairs
If you think you’ve been scammed, see banking and credit scams for how to report it and get help.
How to protect yourself online
Get the most out of internet shopping by staying safe online. Follow our simple steps to protect your money and your personal details.
Keep your details safe
Password-protect all your devices. If you’re using a shared or public computer, never save passwords, and always log out of your accounts — don’t just close the browser window. See the Australian Cyber Security Centre for tips to protect your information online.
If you’re using a public WiFi network, don’t send or receive sensitive information — for example, don’t log in to your online banking or use your credit or debit card.
Record your online purchases
Keep a record of your online purchases, including photos and descriptions of the items. In particular:
Make sure you receive an email confirming your purchase before closing your browser.
Write down your receipt or reference number.
Check that you’ve been charged the right amount.
Reproduced with the permission of ASIC’s MoneySmart Team. This article was originally published at https://moneysmart.gov.au/student-life-and-money/online-shopping
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