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How to stay safe when making purchases online

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The online world lends itself to financial fraud, and as we increasingly turn to our screens for everyday transactions, it’s important we know how to protect ourselves.

Whether you’re shopping online or paying a utility bill, you need to keep your wits about you when browsing the web.

The majority (73.3%) of Australians – equivalent to 3.5 million – automatically save their payment details online, according to a new finder.com.au study.

If you’ve ever seen that box which reads ‘automatically save payment details for next time?’, this is what we’re referring to.

Surprisingly, Generation X was the most trusting, with only 23.8% not saving banking details with websites, while Generation Y proved to be the least trusting, with 29.5% not auto-saving their payment details.

As we often favour convenience over safety, we must realise that personal fraud does occur, and it can happen to you (sorry to be the bearer of bad news!).

Whether a scammer installs spyware on your device, sources your information on an unsecured website, or poses as your bank, there are many ways online scammers can get your account details.

The online fraud credit card fraud rate has nearly tripled to $363 million in nearly five years, so here are some tips to stay safe when transacting online:

5 Safety Tips When Online

  • Look for https://. Before you hand over your money or payment details, see if the website has https:// at the start of the URL address, as the ‘s’ means the website is secure. You should also look out for the padlock icon before the address bar to make sure the website is legitimate.
  • Don’t fall for suspect emails. You should never log onto your bank account through an external email link as this may be a type of phishing or scam. Only log in directly through your bank’s website and not via an external source.
  • Don’t disclose details via email. Never provide your account details via email. No authoritative business will request sensitive or personal information over email, especially if a security check isn’t enforced (e.g. an SMS notification with a security code that you enter).
  • Regularly review your statements. Get into a routine of frequently reviewing your transaction summary statement. Make sure all transaction details seem accurate, and always note the date and the purchase amount. If anything doesn’t add up or if you notice a suspicious transaction (such as a purchase at a store you haven’t visited or a large sum from an overseas supplier you’ve never contacted), tell your bank right away.
  • Let your bank know you’re heading overseas. If you’re planning a trip overseas, it’s smart to let your bank know of your travel plans to avoid your card being frozen due to suspicious activity. Often, you can complete a quick form online.

If you believe fraudulent activity has occurred on your account, contact your bank immediately. To fast-track the process, have the transaction details on hand, such as the amount and the location.

Depending on the card issuer, it can take up to 40 days for a bank to refund you for a fraudulent transaction so the sooner you act, the better.

While many providers work tirelessly to protect your personal information, personal fraud remains an issue in the online arena. To protect yourself from personal fraud, be cautious when making purchases online and trust your gut instinct  – if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

Knowing what signals to look out for, regularly reviewing your financial account statements, being cautious with your personal details, and communicating with your bank are some easy ways to ensure you stay safe online from here on in.

Guest Contributor

finder-bessie-hassan

(Bessie Hassan) Money Expert at finder.com.au

Bessie Hassan is the Money Expert for finder.com.au, Australia’s most visited comparison site that receives over 3 million visitors per month. Bessie is a respected media commentator who often appears on radio, TV, and throughout digital publications sharing her best money-saving hacks and property advice. Bessie is passionate about helping Australians make better decisions, whatever it is they’re looking for.
The information on this blog and website is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision. We recommend you consult a licensed financial adviser in order to assist you with this.

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