Online shopping is rapidly becoming the preferred method of shopping by many. It’s convenient and means you can avoid large, busy crowds. Plus, you can browse in your own time without the pressure of a salesperson constantly asking you questions. However, it comes with a few risks you should be aware of, so keeping these tips in mind can ensure you stay savvy while shopping online.

Use a secure network/ device

Before you jump on your favourite site to start shopping, it’s a good idea to check which network you’re connected to. If you’re hooked up to your home WIFI, there’s no need to stress, but if you’re ever online shopping out in public, always opt to use your phone’s data over connecting to a public network1. The same rule applies when it comes to which device you’re using – avoid public computers.

Secure your payment info

We know it’s tempting to save your card details to the online shopping portal you’re using, but it’s better to avoid doing this2. It can never be guaranteed that this information won’t be compromised or accessed by a hacker, so avoiding the situation altogether prevents the problem from arising.

Stick to trusted sellers and merchants

It’s easy enough for anyone to create a website and start selling something, so the best approach is to only buy from sellers and merchants you regularly buy from1. Or, if you do come across a business you haven’t heard of but really want to purchase something from, make sure you conduct a thorough background search to verify its legitimacy. If the website lacks information about the business and doesn’t look reputable, chances are this isn’t actually a genuine business. You can also tell if a website is secure and safe to use if there is a padlock symbol in the URL and it starts with https:// (not to be confused with http://)2.

Be alert

Scammers will try anything to tempt a buyer. From advertising goods and services for incredibly low prices to requesting payment by direct deposit only, these are just some of the warning signs you could be at risk of a scam1. If something seems too good to be true, it’s likely to be a scammer out with the hopes of tricking someone. Always do some research about the business and read reviews to verify its legitimacy.

Check the returns and refund policy

Before you jump into buying something, it’s always a good idea to check the returns and refund policy2. Every business should have one available on their website. Make sure you understand the conditions of making a return, should you need to, as not every business has the same policy. This is also another great way to tell whether a company is real or not.

Read the fine print

Another policy you should check before you make any purchases is the terms and conditions. There may be a bit of crossover between this policy and the returns policy, but the terms and conditions will often detail how your personal information is stored2. Usually, there will also be information on using payment methods like AfterPay, so if that’s your preferred way to pay, make sure you’re aware of the conditions you must abide by2.

Consider the payment method offered

A good way to ensure your card details are secure and well protected is to avoid paying by direct deposit, money transfer or digital currencies (such as Bitcoin). Most merchants will offer the option of paying by debit or credit card, PayPal, and in some cases AfterPay1. While these payment methods aren’t completely scam-proof, they are the safest. If you absolutely cannot avoid paying by direct deposit, just make sure you carefully research the business you’re buying from and even consider reading their returns policy.

Be aware of scam calls

Once you’ve made your purchase, be conscious of any phone calls you may receive from strange numbers. Even if you answer, exercise caution and avoid divulging any personal details, especially your bank or card details1. Sometimes, the phone number may not be suspicious and the person calling may know all the information about your purchase, but it’s important to stay on your toes and ask lots of questions until you can verify the person is actually who they say they are. Remember, you can hang up and call back the verified phone number of a business and always block phone numbers you don’t trust.

Stay alert when delivery day arrives

Delivery day is close and you’re excited to receive your purchase, but don’t let that cloud your judgement. Scammers take advantage of this to have another go at trying to trick you. You may receive a text message or email that asks you to click on a link to verify your personal information or track the progress of your delivery1. Be wary of these links – if they don’t look reputable, don’t click on them.

More information on staying cyber-safe is availble on our Security webpage. 


General Advice Warning: This information is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice.


1Australian Cyber Security Centre, 2023, Online shopping Online shopping |

2Consumer Affairs Victoria, 2023, Online shopping safety tips,