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Shop safely online with these simple rules

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About Maxine

Ys editor-in-chief ... and campaigner of your causes.

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Wondering what all the fuss is about with online shopping, but scared of being ripped off? Don't worry, we'll steer you right.

Online shopping is easy once you know how. Probably too easy ... just ask my bank balance.

When it comes down to it, there is nothing like the convenience of shopping online. It just ticks so many boxes.

Shop safely from the comfort of home by following these simple rules.

Shop safely from the comfort of home by following these simple rules. Picture: Shutterstock

Think about it: you can shop in your scruffiest attire, even naked, if you so desire; there's no traffic, kids to worry about, packed parking bays or crowds to contend with (specially with Christmas around the corner); it's generally much cheaper than in-store; you can shop online 24/7;  there's no rude staff; the product range is endless; you can poke around and compare prices until you find what you want at the cheapest price; and purchases are delivered to your door.

For me, online shopping is a no-brainer for nearly everything, except shoes. And that's purely because there is so much more than sizing that comes into play when buying them.

With all of these benefits to online shopping, I'm surprised more Aussies aren't yet doing it.

But I do understand that many people, specially older Australians, are fearful of the technology. This includes my dear mum, who steadfastly refuses to pay her bills online and states security as her biggest concern. Try as I might, I just can't get her to budge.

So if you fall into this category, here are a few fail-safe rules (and a handy video) that should keep you -- and your money -- safe when shopping online:

  • Look for the padlock. First and foremost, every secure ecommerce site (such as our sister Aussie food-and-wine venture ), will have a padlock and the word ''secure'' in green in the address bar. The URL will also begin with https, rather than just http. That "s'' is your green flag to go, because it stands for secure. 
  • Do your research. Look for reviews that other shoppers have left on third-party consumer sites and forums. You are particularly looking to see whether purchased goods were delivered, how the company handles customer disputes and whether the goods received were as advertised. Reviews on a company's own site are a bit hit and miss, since you cannot be absolutely sure of their authenticity.
  • Browse smart. Use a secure computer and network to protect your money when shopping online. Public computers and networks are not secure. Keep your devices up to date by turning on “automatic updates''. This includes your web browser and third-party add-ons, which could warn you if you land on suspicious websites. Also, always have good anti-malware (“anti-malicious software”) installed to catch threats like viruses.
  • Contact details. Look for a legitimate postal address and phone number on the ecommerce site. Of course, this is easier if you are shopping on an Australian site, such as , which not only provides all that critical information, but also a .
  • Look for scams. You know that old saying, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is? Well that's not a bad rule to live by online. If the pricing or deal being offered is ridiculously cheaper than anywhere else, such as an iPhone8 for $300, it's safe to assume it's a con.
  • Payment methods. Beware of sites and apps that only accept money orders or wire transfers. Only shop on sites that accept secure payment methods, such as credit cards, Pin Payment and PayPal, as they likely give you buyer protection.  Also, look for security verification stamps from GoDaddy, DigiCert and VeriSign. 
  • Be app smart. The reputable eccommerce sites that offer the convenience of phone apps will usually promote them from their sites. It's best to stick with these. There are plenty of scam shopping apps in the Apple and Google Play stores, so buyer beware.

Kate gets scammed - MoneySmart Rookie


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