Be a savvy Santa when shopping online

Online Christmas shoppers avoid dodgy sites with simple checks

As tens of thousands of Australians go online to shop for presents in the countdown to Christmas, CHOICE says it’s important to take simple steps to protect financial details and get the right product information.     

With 75 percent of internet users going online to shop¹, CHOICE says it’s easy to be stung by suspect sites with poor security or those lacking information about product specifications.  

“Industry research shows that one of the main fears people have about shopping online is payment security².You should look further than convenience and price - check the security of the site as well as a product’s technical details,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.

CHOICE advises online shoppers spend time researching a product and a site’s legitimacy via independent product reviews and consumer forums.

“Cameras, car GPS systems and tablet computers are high tech items with precise specifications. By gathering information before you commit to a purchase, you’ll be more confident that the gift that arrives in the post is what you wanted in the first place,” says Ms Just.

When it comes to payment security, the people’s watchdog says online shoppers should only use websites that encrypt payment details. A small padlock symbol appearing beside the URL during payment process indicates that details should be secure. Shoppers can click on the padlock to check the status of the retailer’s security certificate.

“A fraudulent site selling TV’s or video cameras will look very convincing. This makes it hard to tell the difference between what’s dodgy and what’s not. It’s worth taking a few seconds to verify the security certificate, especially when the site is one you’re not familiar with,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE says another sign that a site provides more security is the ‘s’ that appears in the https//: during the payment process. The ‘s’ is another indicator that any information provided by the customer will be encrypted.  

CHOICE’s tips to buying smart this Christmas:

  1. Do your homework. Check online products reviews and tests, including CHOICE, before you commit to a purchase.  
  2. Never reveal your personal password to anyone, even the payment company. No legitimate online retailer or payment company will ever ask you for your password.
  3. Make sure the domain name matches the website name. For example, might be a fraudulent copy of
  4. Have up-to-date anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software on your computer.
  5. If shopping from overseas sites, consider added costs associated with delivery. Check warranty conditions, product disclosures and shipping details.

“In the hectic month leading up to Christmas, it’s easy to rush an online gift purchase. But a bit of product knowledge based on independent tests and some insights into online security will help you avoid a shopping experience that dampens your festive season,” says Ms Just.

Read more about online shopping tips and CHOICE’s household gift guide and gadget gift guide for the silly season. 



²Paypal and Australian Communications & Media Authority

Media contact:

Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

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