Before gearing up for another spree, take our 10-point refresher course on the basics of safe online shopping.
1. No padlock, no purchase.
Website security is the cornerstone of online shopping - it ensures that your credit card details remain strictly confidential. Before entering any payment information, first look for a padlock icon somewhere in your high speed internet browser (in the address bar, or in the status bar towards the bottom of the page) - this indicates that the website is secure. As an added measure, make sure the website address starts with "https" - not just "http", as the 's' here means 'secure'. If you can't find either of these, enquire about other secure payment options.
2. Prefer reputable shops & sellers.
Read store reviews and check eBay seller ratings before you buy, or opt for sites that you have successfully bought from before - especially when it comes to the expensive stuff. When you can only find the goods you want at small, little-known online shops, check for secure payment methods or use a reliable Escrow service to manage the transaction.
3. Use Paypal as a payment alternative.
When sellers don't offer their own on-site secure method of payment, use Paypal as an alternative. Paypal is an online service that allows payment via credit card, bank transfer, store credit or account funds, without sharing financial information. It's free to use, payment is delivered instantly, with online security and identify verification taken very seriously.
4. Shop only from a clean computer.
Online orders require your personal details, so make sure your computer is free from viruses and malware. Free applications like AVG Free and MalwareBytes' Anti-Malware are readily available online. When using a shared computer, decline if the internet browser offers to save your details for later, and remember to close all open browser windows when you're done.
5. Be vigilant for phishing scams.
Phishing is a form of email fraud designed to steal your personal information. Phishing scams may look like forged account management requests, or offer too-good-to-
6. Don't transact over email.
Email is an insecure medium - meaning it's more susceptible to being intercepted, forged and accessed without your permission. With so many payment options available today, you should never have to give out your credit card or account information via email.
7. Don't shop from spam.
Email promotions should only come from sites you've subscribed to, or stores that you've purchased from before. Avoid responding to unsolicited emails - especially with your credit card information. Not only does that encourage the practise of spamming, but would leave your personal details out in the wild.
Ensure that your personal details won't be passed onto third-party advertisers or email address brokers. This reduces the risk of receiving unsolicited mail, safeguarding against the likelihood of future spam and phishing incidents. Most online shops - particularly reputable stores - understand the importance of privacy; your details are generally safe in their hands.
9. Have your order delivered to a trusted destination.
With all the talk of online safety, remember to be careful offline too. Get your order delivered to a work address, or any other destination attended by someone you trust. This assures that your purchase doesn't get stolen before it gets to you.
10. Keep records & check your statements.
Finally, save records of your shopping adventures in case something goes wrong during the delivery process - this is especially useful if you've been on a shopping spree across several different online stores. Keep track of what you're expecting, and from whom, to avoid any missed packages amongst the incoming horde. Check subsequent credit card statements too, to make sure your digits haven't been taken for a joyride.
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iiNet Australia is an internet service provider offering high speed internet services and diverse information all about the online world. Over the past 17 years, iiNet has supported broadband, telephone and dial up customers and aim to offer top quality customer care. Find out more information about the Internet from http://www.iinet.net.au.