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Online shopping guide – 5 ways to stay safe and have fun



Embrace the possibilities of online shopping and keep your money safe with these five failsafe strategies from ME.

No matter whether you’re planning to put the latest fashions from Saks Fifth Avenue or an elusive part for a vintage car, the internet puts it all at our fingertips. And Australians aren’t wasting a minute grabbing bargains and one-of-kind buys, with millions of Australians shopping online[1].

Not only convenient, online shopping is generally very safe, especially if you stick to secure sites where the web address starts with ‘https’. Only two out of three of us check if a site is secure[2] so make this a priority.

While it pays to keep your money safe online, our own spending habits can be more of a danger than the risk of cyber crooks. With so much choice available, the temptation to overspend can be irresistible, with studies showing that one in four of us are splashing out on purchases we know we’ll struggle to repay[3].

This makes it worth introducing a few personal safeguards to ensure online shopping doesn’t leave you strapped for cash or weighed down by debt.

1. Try the 60-minute rule

Skip the hype about limited time offers and try taking a 60-minute breather before committing to a purchase. With the benefit of a cooling off period, you could find that must-have buy isn’t so essential after all.

2. Read the refund policy – carefully

When you buy from an overseas retailer, the consumer rights we enjoy here in Australia don’t always apply. Be especially careful to check the fine print on refunds. In particular: what sort of timeframe are you given to claim a refund and who pays the freight on goods returned – you or the e-tailer?

3. Check out reviews

If you’re unsure about the quality of merchandise offered by an online store, fish around on social media for product reviews or check out appraisals by trusted authorities (consumer group Choice’s website is handy here). A few honest opinions can be the key to avoiding a dud buy.

4. Keep temptation at bay

Creating a separate email account for online shopping doesn’t just minimise the volume of junk mail clogging up your regular inbox, but can also help you resist the urge to buy stuff you don’t really need.

5. Save smart

Although e-coupons can shave a few dollars of a purchase, don’t let coupons restrict you to a handful of online stores. The best buys could lie elsewhere, and shopping around is always the best way to secure a genuine bargain.

Always stick to a set spending limit and know what you can comfortably afford to pay. It’s a simple way to enjoy the freedom of online shopping without blowing your budget.

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[1] Australia Post and StarTrack research, Inside Australian Online Shopping, 2017

[2] Veda, Hackers get serious about causing mischief as identity takeovers rise 59% in two years, 7 October 2015

[3] Veda Credit Scorecard, 28 October 2016. 

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