Protection Online – 8 Critical Areas



Online shopping has given internet users access to products that they cannot normally buy from their town or country. More and more traditional businesses are using the internet as another way to sell products and services. International businesses can ship straight to your door.

With this increase in online shopping opportunities come the associated risks including fraud, invasion of privacy, identity theft and loss either from products not being delivered or not being what you ordered.

To protect yourself from online fraud and loss, make sure you mentally check the following 8 areas prior to using any website.

  1. Website identification
    Does the website display any contact details or ‘about us’ information? Is there a physical street address and phone number displayed? Remember, you may have to contact them if your order goes wrong so make sure you have some form of contact details and not just an email address. Anyone can set up a website and have an email so you need to ensure that who you are dealing with is a reputable business. This is especially important if you are dealing with an overseas shopping website.

  2. Product
    Make sure that you know exactly what you are paying for – obtain a clear description and photograph of the product before going through the payment process.

  3. Payment Process
    Before entering any personal and credit card details into a website you need to check the online security that the website offers. An unbroken lock should appear in the bottom right hand side of your browser window and you should be told that you are entering a secure environment before you provide credit card details.

    Most online payment systems use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which encrypts the data that is sent from you to them. Security information should be clearly displayed and usually the website will display the payment gateway they are using. The most well known global payment gateway is WorldPay. If the website that you are using does have security then do not use it.

  4. Currency
    Make sure you know which currency you are being charged in for the product purchase and also make sure you know before you provide your credit card details how much the delivery costs will be. International delivery can be very expensive, as can the customs charges in your country which will not be included in the cost online. Remember to check with Customs what charges and duties you could be liable for by purchasing goods online from overseas destinations.

  5. Legal
    Be sure to know which country’s laws apply prior to transacting with an international site. If you have any problems with the transaction, don’t automatically assume that you will be able to take legal avenues in your country’s jurisdiction.

  6. Privacy
    A reputable website will have a privacy policy that outlines how they will deal with personal information that you provide. Make sure that the policy specifies that your information will not be on-sold or used by third parties as if it doesn’t, you could be the unwilling recipient of unsolicited emails.

  7. Refunds and warranties
    Again, a reputable website will have a policy that outlines its returns, exchange, warranty and refund procedures. Contact them by email or phone if you cannot find the policy online. If you are buying from a New Zealand website you will be covered by consumer protection legislation, however if you are buying from an international website there will more often than not be such protections.

  8. Delivery
    Ascertain when your order is due to be delivered so that you know when to chase up an order that hasn’t been delivered. It is a good idea to have products sent with insurance so that you get tracking numbers as well as compensation if the product is lost in the mail.


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