Safe Shopping Online: Tips for a Happy Holiday

Xmas Shopping photo courtesy: gilgongo on flickrcc

Shopping online at Christmas means: avoiding the parking hassles and the crowds, enjoying 24/7 shopping hours and finding some great bargains all from the comfort of your own home.  Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?  Being aware of potential security traps and following these few simple tips will ensure that your online experience is a happy one.

  • Be wary! If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are lots of scams online, one of the best ways to avoid them is to use your common sense. It also pays to use a filter that warns you of suspicious sites and stops you from accidentally visiting known phishing sites.
  •  Know the company you are buying from. It’s safest to buy from known and trusted sites. If you’re shopping on an unfamiliar site, look for contact details (address and phone no.). Remember if the site is overseas it might be more difficult to return goods. You can easily find out other’s experiences with the site if you search for the name of the shopping site and add ‘review’ ‘recommendations’ or ‘feedback’ to your search words.
  • Know what you’re buying.  Read the fine print! Make sure the product is legal in Australia. Check that you understand what is and is not included in your purchase price such as shipping and handling. Check for warranties, terms and conditions, return policies and some way to contact the company if you need further help.
  • Make sure the site protects your information. On a site where its necessary to enter your credit card details or other personal information, look for an “s” after http in the web address (URL) of the page (see below). (This means that the site is encrypting your data to keep it safe as its being sent online.) There should also be a small locked padlock in the window or the bottom right-hand corner of the page (see below right).

  • Use secure payment methods. Use your credit card, BPay or PayPal. Try to avoid direct debit and money transfers and never send your bank details or credit card details in an email. It is not secure. Make sure you are able to confirm or reject your order before paying. Keep records and print off receipts the check your accounts or statements to make sure you’ve been charged correctly.

For more safety tips, check out ACMA Stay Safe online site — http://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/home_internet_users/protect_yourself2

This is Get eSmart-VSC’s last post for 2011. We’ll be back in 2012. The Teacher Librarians and staff of Vermont Secondary College’s Library and Learning Services wish you all the best for the holidays and a safe and prosperous New Year!

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