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5 tips to stay ahead of the scammers when shopping online

Shopping online can be more convenient and sometimes cheaper, but it’s a good idea to understand the risks and your rights before you shop online.

The Office of Fair Trading’s top tips for online shopping are to always check you are dealing with a reputable seller and remember you have the same rights as you would if you bought from a walk-in store.

Check on delivery charges as it is usually an separate charge no included in the price of the item.

If products are faulty or do not match their description, the trader must fix the issue. They cannot refer you to the manufacturer or importer.

  1. Know the business

Buy from websites you know and trust.

Check the company has a physical street address and landline phone number.

If the company operates from overseas, you may have trouble getting a refund or repair.

  1. Pay securely

A secure website address will always: begin with ‘https://’, not ‘http://’ and display the image of a closed padlock (usually in the bottom right corner of your browser window).

Only make a payment if you can see both of these things.

This will protect you against fraud and unauthorised credit card transactions.

  1. Check the full price

The displayed price must include all extra fees, charges and any options the supplier has pre-selected.

Additional costs may include:

  • currency conversion
  • taxes
  • postage and delivery fees

It might end up being cheaper to buy the product at a local shop.

  1. Keep records

Always write down any reference numbers, take a photo or print out copies of:

  • the order form (both before and after you confirm the order)
  • receipts (can come by email or in a pop-up window)

Always make sure all charges are correct by checking the receipt against your:

  • credit card statement
  • merchant account statement (such as PayPal)
  • bank statement

The charges may be converted from another currency.

  1. Beware of scams

Scammers target online shoppers. 

SCAMwatch gives information on how to protect yourself from online scammers.

Scammers use all kinds of sneaky approaches to steal your personal details.

Once obtained, they can use your identity to commit fraudulent activities such as using your credit card or opening a bank account.

While many online sellers are legitimate, unfortunately scammers can use the anonymous nature of the internet to rip off unsuspecting shoppers.

Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin.

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