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
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
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.
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
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.
Get the most out of internet shopping and avoid problems by
doing some simple things to protect your money and your personal
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
- your web browser shows a closed padlock similar to
this: (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.
If you want to ask for a chargeback, don't delay - there may be
a time limit on getting your money back.
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
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
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
- Does the site ask for more personal information than they
- Are their prices too good to be true?
- Can you find more information about the company or products
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)
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
Some credit cards charge an international transaction fee if you buy
products from a company that is based overseas (even if you pay in
Australian dollars), or is based in Australia but processes
payments in another country. This fee is generally calculated as a
percentage of the Australian dollar value of the transaction
(usually up to 3.5%).
Even though an online shopping website with a domain name that
ends in '.com.au' might appear to be an Australian business, they
or their bank might be located overseas. This means you could still
be charged an international transaction fee.
To check if you will be charged this fee, read the terms and
conditions on the company's website - or call or email them
You can also check the terms and conditions of your credit card
to find out if and when you will be charged international
transaction fees. Some cards don't charge these fees, so you could
think about switching cards if you regularly shop online from
companies with overseas connections.
Westpac has refunded around $20 million to customers for not
clearly disclosing the types of credit card transactions that
attract foreign transaction fees. For more information, see ASIC's media release.
You can use comparison websites to check the fees and features
of credit cards, but they do have some limitations. See our article
on using comparison websites for
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
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
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
If you don't receive what you paid for, in good condition, there
are steps you can take:
- Check the seller's website for details on how to contact them
or make a complaint.
- Contact your bank or payment service provider about
protections, such as chargebacks, that may apply.
- 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
Last updated: 17 Dec 2018