Christmas shopping – protect yourself online

By Mark Teale, Retirement Strategies and Solutions
Centrepoint Alliance


As we get closer to Christmas, our thoughts turn to shopping for the holidays.

As a modern and technologically advanced society, a large percentage of our Christmas shopping will be done online – depending if we start early and allow enough time for our purchases to be delivered.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have issued guidelines to protect your rights and hard-earned savings.

The following is an extract from their website, outlining your rights and tips when it comes to purchasing gifts over the internet:

These tips to protect your rights when shopping online:

  1. Only consider buying from online sellers in Australia or overseas that have a good reputation, show clear instructions on how to return and refund items and display business details such as phone number and address
  2. Ensure products and services meet Australian safety regulations
  3. Before buying, check terms and conditions carefully so you know what you’re paying for and that there are no hidden costs or restrictions
  4. Before you start, ensure your computer, tablet or phone is secure by installing or updating security and anti-virus software
  5. Shop around. Ask questions and ask for pictures so you know what you are getting. Compare prices on different sites
  6. Before paying:
  • beware of sellers asking for your bank PIN or password. Never buy from these sellers. Report them to the ACCC
  • check that the site is secure. It should have a padlock symbol and an address starting with https://
  • consider using a third-party escrow agent to pay for valuable items as they’ll hold the payment in trust until you receive and accept the item
  1. Keep copies of all documents, including electronic records of auction bids, item descriptions, emails and receipts in case there is a problem later.
  2. If there is a problem, email the seller outlining the issue and how you want it resolved.
  3. If you paid by credit card and you did not receive the product or service, contact your bank and ask them to reverse an unauthorized charge.

I am not saying that if you follow this advice your purchases will be completely worry free, but the steps should reduce the risk and some of the worry. By following these tips, all you would have to concern yourself with is, “how do I pay for the purchases?” or “did I remember everyone’s present?!”.


If you are looking for more information on your rights as a consumer, the ACCC’s Consumer Rights Guarantees may be helpful.


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