The ability to shop online has revolutionised how parents purchase. No longer do parents need to pack their children into the car, battle for parking, march across the shopping complex looking in store after store, only to find that the product they are after is out of stock or ridiculously overpriced. Instead, parents can now shop for school items, books, games, clothes and more from the comfort of their own home. Not only are a wider array of products now available for purchase, they are often cheaper than what we find in our stores.
But of course, all this benefit cannot come without some risk. The news regularly updates us on the security scams and incidents of shoppers encountering issues when shopping online. While these cannot ever completely be rid of, there are a number of measures you can take to minimise your chances of being caught out.
Tips when shopping online
Check the terms and conditions before purchasing: in particular, review the company's refund policy.
Check the currency in case it is being listed in euros or American dollars, as this will affect the actual price you pay.
Check the full cost: Make sure you aren't getting caught out by a cheap product, but ridiculous shipping fees.
Pay securely: make sure the site URL begins with https:// and the padlock icon is visible on the payment page. Note: since the revelation of the Heartbleed bug, be aware that even secure systems aren't 100% safe from hackers.
Use PayPal, BPay or credit card: avoid money transfers and direct debit as they can be open to abuse. Never send details via email.
Look out for scams: Use your discretion when viewing a website - does it look professional? Does it look legit?
Consider using a pre-paid credit card: These can be purchased from the Post Office, and allow you to transfer limited funds onto that card, preventing scammers from getting into your actual credit card/bank account.
Turn computer off at night: this limits the time available for hackers to attempt to break into your computer and steal your details.
Do it together: If your child wants to purchase something online, go through the process with them, so you can ascertain the validity of the site and teach them how to look for the points mentioned above
If it appears too good to be true, it probably is!