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Buying safely online

Posted 4 August 2008

The story of the Olympic families being cheated by ticket touts is a sad lesson on what we need to watch for when buying goods and services online.

From this story there's some important lessons we should keep in mind when shopping on the Internet.

Can you trust the seller?
It's very easy to set up a plausible looking website. One of the comments from a lot of the victims is they trusted the web site because it "looked professional".

Sadly, professional looking websites are quite cheap and easy to make. So an impressive site is no guide to reliability.

When you find a site that looks legitimate, take some time to check it out by doing a web search.

A search on would have found concerns about this outfit as early as last March.

Be sceptical
The old saw is that if something seems too good to be true, it usually isn't.

When you see a great deal, be suspicious. Make sure you check out the web site or, if it's through a site like eBay, check the seller's credentials throroughly.

Use your credit card
Once you're satisfied the deal is genuine, pay using a credit card. In most circumstances you'll be protected from fraudsters.

Note you are not protected if you use a debit card. So be careful with the payment methods you use.

We're not great fans of services like PayPal as we've seen too many problems with those services.

Under no cirumstances should you buy using direct deposit or cash transfers. Any seller who requires this is dubious and you should avoid look elsewhere.

The Internet's a great place to find deals, but it's also a great opportunity for scammers. Take some precautions and you should avoid them.



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