Online transactions

Shopping and banking online can make life easier - but only if you know how to protect your money and your privacy.

Here are our tips on protecting your money and your personal details online.

Internet banking

Get the advantages of banking online without the problems.

Keep your details safe

Use a secure computer and a secure network to access internet banking. Public computers and public wi-fi networks are not secure. Always make sure you log off when you've finished internet banking online.

If you receive account updates on your mobile phone, anyone else who uses your phone can get your banking details. That's why it's a good idea to set up a password for your phone and other devices. For extra protection, delete account updates as soon as you've looked at them.

Smart tip

Don't store your internet banking login name or password on your computer or mobile phone. If your device gets stolen, your accounts could be emptied.

Record receipt numbers

When you transfer money online (e.g. from your bank account to someone else's account), you'll receive a receipt number as proof of the transaction. Print this, or write it down. If something goes wrong (e.g. if you transfer money to the wrong account), this proof can be important.

Watch out for fake bank emails (phishing)

Phishing scams are a way of stealing your financial and personal details so scammers can clear out your bank account. This is can lead to identity theft. It happens when scammers send fake emails or texts, or they might call you and pretend to be from your bank or another financial organisation. Their email may include a link to a fake website. Everything seems real but it's actually a very clever fake.

To avoid being scammed, don't click on links and don't give any information. Report anything suspicious to your bank. For more information read our webpage on banking and credit scams.

Online shopping

Get the most out of internet shopping and avoid problems by doing some simple things to protect your money and your personal details.

Check site security and privacy

Make sure a company's website is secure before you enter any personal information and only transact through trusted websites. You can do this by checking whether:

  • the website address at the top of the page starts with https:// or just http:// (The 's' in https:// tells you the website is secure)
  • your web browser shows a closed padlock similar to this: Lock (This means the website is secure)
  • the company has complete contact details, including a street address. (Companies with a street address and contact details are more likely to be legitimate).

Use a secure computer and a secure network to protect your money when shopping online.

Video: To buy or not to buy?

To buy or not to buy video

You'll never know 100% which sites you can trust, but online stores that are secure and value you as customer are usually a good start. Check out these useful tips to help you decide whether to go ahead and buy.

Record your online purchases

Keep a record of online purchases, including photos and descriptions of items you buy. In particular:

  • Make sure you have received an email confirmation of your purchase before closing your browser
  • Keep a record of your receipt or other reference numbers
  • Check your settings for online website accounts to see how long your transaction history is kept
  • Check your bank account, credit card or other account to make sure you have been charged correctly.

Credit card chargeback

Buying with a credit card, rather than a debit card, may give you extra protection if you don't receive what you bought. You can ask your bank for a chargeback.

A chargeback is a return of funds from a retailer, or service provider, to your bank account or credit card, often initiated by your bank. When the bank has investigated, it may reverse the transaction - meaning you get the money back. However, it depends on the circumstances. Check with your bank.

Smart tip

If you want to ask for a chargeback, don't delay - there may be a time limit on getting your money back.

PayPal chargeback

If your credit card is linked to your PayPal account, you may be entitled to a chargeback for PayPal purchases. However, this option is only available if you are not satisfied with the outcome of PayPal's dispute resolution process.

Know your costs and rights as a buyer

Read all information carefully so you know the full cost of what you are buying online.

Check the details like:

  • postage or delivery fees
  • packaging or handling charges
  • local currency costs, including currency conversion fees, if the purchase is from overseas
  • import duty or taxes.

All overseas retailers who ship products to Australia must now charge 10% GST on the price of these goods. Although some stores may absorb this extra charge, if you buy from overseas websites, you may notice that some prices have increased to cover the tax.

Once you know all the costs, it's easier to compare similar things on other websites or the price of buying the item in a shop. Remember, it may be harder to get a refund or exchange on an overseas purchase.

Watch out for internet shopping scams

Fake websites or fake products can be used to steal your money, your bank details, or your identity. Try to avoid this by looking for clues that tell you it might not be the real deal. For example:

  • Does the site ask for more personal information than they need?
  • Are their prices too good to be true?
  • Can you find more information about the company or products somewhere else?

Your best protection against scammers is to find out more about how scams work so you'll have a better chance of spotting one. Visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) SCAMwatch website.

Buy now pay later services

Buy now pay later services, such as Afterpay, Certegy and zipPay, are offered by approved retailers and allow you to order or buy a product immediately and delay payment. You then pay off the product in instalments over several weeks - or, with some service providers, over a longer period. Read more about how buy now pay later services work.

International transaction fees

If you regularly make overseas purchases from Australia, you should consider an international transaction fee-free credit or debit card. International transaction fees are usually around 3% of the purchase price.

If you're charged an unexpected international transaction fee for a purchase in Australian dollars from a business that appeared to be located in Australia, it could be considered misleading under the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC has more on international transaction fees when shopping online.  

Online auctions

Different auction sites have different rules, and the type of auction may affect your legal rights as a buyer. Check the ACCC's website for a great list of online auction tips.

Solving problems with internet transactions

Online banking

When you transfer money online from your bank account to another person's account, you must be careful to enter their correct BSB and bank account number.

Here's what to do if you have been scammed or if your bank details have been given to a scammer.

Online shopping

Sometimes, even when you're careful, things can go wrong.

Find out what your rights are from the ACCC's online shopping webpages or your local consumer protection or fair trading organisation.

If you don't receive what you paid for, in good condition, there are steps you can take:

  1. Check the seller's website for details on how to contact them or make a complaint.
  2. Contact your bank or payment service provider about protections, such as chargebacks, that may apply.
  3. Contact the ACCC or the consumer protection or fair trading organisation in your state to see if they can help you sort things out with the seller.

Shopping and banking online are convenient ways to manage your money and buy the things you want. However, you need to be careful and take some precautions so you don't put your money at risk.

Related links

Last updated: 03 Sep 2019