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Shopping up an online storm? The five things you need to know before you hit the checkout

Online shopping is an oasis catering to people looking to buy all types of things. With the offer of convenience, variety, ability to send gifts directly and comparison of prices within one sitting you can now purchase almost anything from the comfort of your own couch. And people are.

A big 81% of Australian consumers say they shop online according to the latest Australian Payment Research Report, and many are doing it from their mobile phone. It comes as no surprise then that in one month, Heritage Bank customers spend, on average, a total of $15.8 million via online transactions.

It’s not hard to see why people are spending more time shopping around online and making purchases via overseas companies. While of course shopping local benefits the local economy and lets you have face to face customer service, it’s also vital for consumers to do their research and have all the options. In many instances, people use online shopping as a way to purchase products not readily available in Australia such as the latest fashions from the High Streets of the UK, the latest gadget from Japan or a pizza stone direct from Napoli.

With the success of online shopping we’ve seen customers become more savvy with their online security. Reputable online stores have also upped their security measures to ensure their customers have the best and safest experience possible. However, even with these improvements we still know 38% of consumers are concerned about online security and that’s why we are working to promote safe online shopping among our customers.

The top five things to consider before making a purchase online

1. Do you know and trust this website and business? Make sure you know the business – does it have a physical address and phone number and does it allow you to pay securely?

2. What do you know about the business? Find out about their privacy and returns policies.

3. Are there any hidden costs you’ll be hit with at the check-out? There could be conversion costs (for international purchases) or hidden fees.

4. Keep a record of your purchase. Online stores should display a receipt at the end of a purchase –many stores will email you a copy. Either save this onto your computer or print a hard copy.

5. Do not be afraid to resolve problems. The Department of Fair Trading recommends on its website that when problems occur while online shopping, immediately enter into a dispute resolution process to facilitate communication between yourself and the seller. If you are unhappy with the response, you can make a complaint to the department.

Know your rights

* Based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.