Safe Shopping Advice

Using the internet to purchase goods or services saves considerable time and effort – and also presents you with a wide choice. However there are risks associated with online shopping and you need to take care with what you are buying, from whom, and how you pay for your purchases.

We recommend that you establish a separate secure method of buying items over the internet for example:

  • Establish a separate debit card for online shopping – contact your local bank
  • Establish a PayPal account – go to to see how to establish your account.

Safe Shopping

Ensure that any online retailer unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them. The best way to find a reputable retailer is via recommendation from a trusted source.

Remember that paying by credit card offers greater protection than with other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery.

  •  Double check all details of your purchase before confirming payment.
  •  Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don’t recognize.

Some websites will redirect you to a third-party payment service (such as PayPal ). Ensure that these sites are secure before you make your payment.

Do not pay for goods when using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Safeguard and remember the password you have chosen for the extra verification services used on some websites, such as Verified by Visa.

When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.

  • Check sellers’ privacy policy and returns policy.

Always log out of sites into which you have logged in or registered details. Simply closing your browser is not enough to ensure privacy.

  • Keep receipts.

Check credit card and bank statements carefully after shopping to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the transaction.

Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.

Where possible, check that the price listed by the retailer on your browser is the same as that quoted on other people’s browsers, to ensure you are not being monitored and overcharged.

The Risks

Choose reputable shopping sites.  Ensure the website is secure before entering payment details.

Fraud resulting from making payments over unsecured web pages.

Fraud resulting from making payments using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Bogus online stores/shops – fake websites and email offers for goods and services that do not exist.

Buying fake goods intentionally or unintentionally – finding they are of inferior quality and also possibly funding more serious crimes in the process.

Losing your money when you make direct bank payments, only to find that the goods are inferior, or do not exist at all.

Receiving goods or services which do not match the advertiser’s description.

Being offered tailored prices based on information gathered by the retailer about your online shopping habits and websites visited.

Yes- Using the internet to purchase goods or services saves considerable time and effort – and also presents you with the widest choice. There are, however, risks associated with online shopping and you need to take care with what you are buying, from whom, and how you pay for your purchases.

Scams – If you buy or sell online, you should also be aware of  online auction & shopping scams? Visit SCAM WATCH  (Australia)

Stay a step ahead with the latest info and practical tips from the nation’s consumer protection agency. Browse FTC scam alerts by topic or by most recent. (USA)

ActionFraud is the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.

Good Security Practices

You can do some simple things to improve your computer’s security. Some of the most important are

Use caution with email attachments and untrusted links. Malware is commonly spread by people clicking on an email attachment or a link that launches the malware. Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re safe, even if they come from a person you know. Some malware sends itself through an infected computer. While the email may appear to come from someone you know, it really came from a compromised computer. Be especially wary of attachments with sensational names, emails that contain misspellings, or emails that try to entice you into clicking on a link or attachment (for example, an email with a subject like that reads, “Hey, you won’t believe this picture of you I saw on the internet!”).

Use caution when providing sensitive information. Some email or web pages that appear to come from a legitimate source may actually be the work of an attacker. An example is an email claiming to be sent from a system administrator requesting your password or other sensitive information or directing you to a website requesting that information. While internet service providers may request that you change your password, they will never specify what you should change it to or ask you what it is.

Create strong passwords. Passwords that have eight or more characters, use a variety of uppercase and lowercase letters, and contain at least one symbol and number are best. Don’t use passwords that people can easily guess like your birthday or your child’s name. Password detection software can conduct dictionary attacks to try common words that may be used as passwords or conduct brute-force attacks where the login screen is pummeled with random attempts until it succeeds. The longer and more complex a password is, the harder these tools have to work to crack it. Also, when setting security verification questions, choose questions for which it is unlikely that an internet search would yield the correct answer