Online shopping can be a convenient way to buy the things you want. Know how to protect yourself online, and what to do if you don't get what you pay for.
What to look out for when you shop online
Not sure if you can trust a website with your personal information? Follow our simple steps to shop online with confidence.
Make sure the website is secure
Before you enter personal or payment details online, make sure the website is secure.
Signs of a secure website:
- Your web address bar shows a closed padlock or key.
- The web address starts with 'https://'
- The company has complete contact details, including a street address, phone number and email.
If you haven't heard of the business, check reviews online to help you decide whether to shop with them.
Find out if the seller is overseas
If the seller is not in Australia, you may not have the same consumer rights. It could be hard to contact them for a repair, replacement or refund.
An overseas seller might charge you an international transaction fee. A seller can be based overseas even if the domain ends with '.com.au' or if the price is in Australian dollars. To see what fees apply, read the website's terms and conditions or contact the seller directly.
Avoid being charged two fees: check if your credit card provider charges a fee for overseas transactions.
Check you can afford buy now pay later
Some websites let you pay for something in instalments, like every fortnight, instead of paying the full amount upfront.
You don't pay interest on the purchase. Instead you're charged fees. It's easy to overspend or lose track of how much you owe. So make sure you can afford the repayments.
Find out about buy now pay later services like Afterpay, Humm or zipPay.
Know your rights as a buyer
Read the terms and conditions carefully, including:
- the returns policy
- postage or delivery fees
- any packaging or handling charges
- local currency costs, such as currency conversion fees if the purchase is from overseas
- any international transaction fees
- any import duty or taxes
Check your credit card statements
If you shop online, check your credit card and bank statements regularly. Make sure you've been charged the right amount.
If you see something you don't recognise, this could be a sign that a scammer has your personal details. See banking and credit card scams to find out the signs of a scam, how to report it and get help.
Kate gets scammed
Check out these useful tips to help you decide whether to go ahead and buy.
What to do if something goes wrong
Sometimes, even when you're careful, things can go wrong:
- You don't get what you pay for.
- It's not in good condition.
- You've been overcharged.
Follow these steps to get a refund or exchange.
1. Know your rights
Visit the ACCC's online shopping page to find out about your rights as a customer.
2. Contact the seller
Check the seller's website for details on how to contact them or make a complaint. It may have been a mistake — if so, explain the issue to them and suggest how they can fix it.
3. Contact the ACCC or consumer affairs
4. Call your bank
If you used your credit card to shop online but didn't get what you paid for, contact your bank. They may be able to give you a chargeback.
If you used a PayPal account, follow PayPal's dispute resolution process.
If you think you've been scammed, see banking and credit scams for how to report it and get help.
How to protect yourself online
Get the most out of internet shopping by staying safe online. Follow our simple steps to protect your money and your personal details.
Keep your details safe
Password-protect all your devices. If you're using a shared or public computer, never save passwords, and always log out of your accounts — don't just close the browser window. See Stay Smart Online for tips on creating a strong password.
If you're using a public WiFi network, don't send or receive sensitive information — for example, don't log in to your online banking or use your credit card.
Record your online purchases
Keep a record of your online purchases, including photos and descriptions of the items. In particular:
- Make sure you receive an email confirming your purchase before closing your browser.
- Write down your receipt or reference number.
- Check that you've been charged the right amount.