The Internet offers a vast array of opportunities. However, the same type of safety precautions should be taken when shopping online as you do when shopping and communicating in the off-line world.
The following advice is offered when buying online:
- Shop with businesses you know by reputation, experience or recommendation. If you don’t know the business, do your own research to ensure that they are legitimate.
- Try to obtain a business that lists a physical address or telephone number on its website. Call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
- Send them e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of sellers who use free e-mail services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
- Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
- Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
- Don’t automatically judge a person/company by their website. There have been numerous instances of websites being set up that ‘mirror’ the genuine site.
- Read the terms and conditions of the contract to make sure you understand the delivery options/charges, return policy and product or service warranty. For international transactions, ensure you are aware of the current exchange rate and any applicable duties and taxes.
- Ensure the business has a fair and clear process for submitting complaints and/or cancelling orders.
- Ensure the site is a secure and reputable one. If you see a tiny icon of a padlock, this may indicate a higher level of security to transmit data. If you see a broken-key or open padlock symbol on your Internet browser it may mean that the transaction is not secure and could be intercepted by a third party.
- Don’t always trust a site just because it claims to be secure. Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
- The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
- Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
- Remember, unlike secure order forms on a website, e-mail messages are not private. Do not send confidential personal or financial information by e-mail.
- Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
- Talk to your children about online activities. Instruct them to keep their personal information private unless you approve.
Please also refer to the information relating to jurisdiction to determine which law enforcement agency the matter should be reported to.