Shopping online has grown enormously over the past decade with more than 50% of Australians choosing online shopping as a common shopping method. There's such a huge range of products to buy online and consumers love that their gifts and groceries are easily delivered to their door. Online shopping can come with a flip side however and shoppers need to know who they're divulging their information to and if it is safe to do so. Following a few simple rules while shopping can greatly improve your security and peace of mind.
LOOK FOR A SAFETY CERTIFICATE OR SSL
If an online business is taking your credit card payment through their website and not using an external provider (like PayPal or a well known bank) then you need to ensure that the website has the correct measures in place to provide you a safe and secure transaction. Many online shopping sites have certificates that state they offer secure online shopping. What this means is the website is using an external provider to encrypt any private information you provide so that it can be sent safely amongst the necessary channels (bank transactions for example). You want to look for well known safety certificates like GeoTrust or VeriSign. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol for transmitting private data via the Internet.
READ THE RETURN'S POLICY
You want to make sure you enjoy your purchase so if you receive something that's not what you ordered or arrives broken you want to make sure you can return it. In Australia shopping outlets must provide refunds for items that are faulty or not as they are described. Even if you have received the item as a gift, you are entitled to return it as long as you have the receipt. A lot of online shops have their own refunds policy, so if you're looking at an item of clothing online, want to buy it but are not sure it will fit properly, check the stores returns policy to see if they take refunds 'no questions asked'.
PAY WITH A PAYPAL ACCOUNT
PayPal offer a secure payment system where they act somewhat as an intermediary. Basically, you just click the PayPal button on your website of choice and you don't need to provide any credit card information as PayPal does all the work for you. You can set up as many bank accounts as you like for PayPal to access payment from and during the payment process you can choose the account you'd prefer to pay from.
USE MULTIPLE PASSWORDS
With Internet usage an integral part of most peoples every day lives you can end up with a myriad of accounts that all require usernames and passwords. It's easy to just use the same password for each account but this is a sure fire way to end up in trouble. Particularly if you're using the same password on a site that has no encryption and using that password again to access your bank. You need to have different passwords for all of your accounts. That way, if one gets hacked it stops there and doesn't spread across all your accounts. A couple of easy ways to remember your password is to use a formula. Try using something like the first and last letter of the website you're on as the first two letters. Then your mother's initials capitilised. Then your dog's name and the birth year of your cat (say 2005) as a '0' at the start of your password and a '5' at the end. If that formula sounds too hard (come up with your own and you'll get used to it!) try a password app like Dashlane. This way you create one master password for the app and store all the other passwords in the app itself.
DON'T CLICK ON EMAIL LINKS ASKING FOR DETAILS
Sounds self-explanatory but these 'spam' emails are getting tricky to pick apart from the real thing. You may receive an email from a company like iTunes or your bank asking you to update your details by clicking on a link within the email. Don't click on it. Go directly to your account via the company's own website and sign in. If there really is anything for you to update there should be a notification in your account. It's quite easy to spot these 'spam' emails as there will often be mispellings and poor grammar throughout - however, better not to take the risk and go directly to the company's website for more information.