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Buying Things On The Internet


Stories of internet fraud get a great deal of media attention. As a result, many people are afraid of buying goods over the internet using their credit card.

If you believe the hype generated by some of these news stories, hundreds of crooks are just waiting for you to enter your credit card details so that they can intercept your transmission, and use the numbers to take your card to the limit.

In reality, things are a bit different. It's pretty unlikely that your data will be intercepted and used. However, there can be a risk when the company asking for your credit card number does not store them securely, or uses them fraudulently.

There have certainly been cases recently when insecurely stored lists of credit card numbers have been stolen and used illegally.

I've been buying goods on the internet for around 5 years now, and have made hundreds of transactions for books, software, and various products. I've only had one problem - and that was with a large Australian company. The error was quickly fixed after intervention by my bank.

It’s a good idea to take some basic precautions before buying something from a company on the internet. Try to establish a "feel" for the reputability of the company from the look of their website. If you get the feeling that the company looks suspect, don't deal with them.

Reputable companies tend to have the following on their websites

  • A proper domain name, and an associated email address.
  • A Secure Server for encryption of purchase details. (You can tell if the transaction is on a secure server, because a little picture of a lock comes up in your browser when you are using a secure page. You should never send your credit card details in an email message.)
  • A Mailing address. (referably a street address)
  • Contact phone numbers
  • Business registration numbers
  • Privacy and Security Statements
  • Contactable references from satisfied clients
  • Money Back guarantees
  • Membership of recognised Trade Organisations


If you consider the above items, I believe that purchasing on the internet is safer than letting your card out of your sight at a restaurant, or a hotel. There are small machines called "skimmers" which can read the information off your card in a fraction of a second, and store it for fraudulent use.

Using real time processors like WorldPay or PayPal is also quite safe in our opinion. Your card number is never seen by the merchant concerned.

A strategy that many people use is to have an additional card with a small limit just for internet use.

Remember that if your card number is fraudulently used, you can recover the funds from your bank. However the time taken and inconvenience caused can be significant.

If you don't want to provide your card details over the internet, most companies can accept them by phone or fax. International phone calls are cheap these days - a call from Australia to the USA is cheaper than a call from Hobart to Sydney.


WebAngel Pty. Ltd. (ABN 50 098 071 124)
GPO Box 370 Hobart, Tasmania Australia 7001.
Phone (03) 6243 1334 email: sales@webangel.com.au

Internet: WebAngel.com.au

Blog: EricGraudins.com

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