Minister issues warning to online shoppers

18 Jan 2010

Minister for Fair Trading, Virginia Judge, today urged consumers to proceed with caution when shopping online.

The warning came after figures from NSW Fair Trading revealed there were 3,396 complaints about online trading in 2009 including 230 complaints about online auctions – an increase of 33.5 per cent from 2008.

Ms Judge said while more than half of all Australians now buy and sell goods on the internet, many of these people are learning the hard way about the perils of virtual trading.

“I am very concerned about the number of consumers who are being caught out while shopping online,” she said.

“Shopping online is easy and convenient but there are major risks associated with purchasing products over the internet.

“More than half of the complaints received related to non or partial delivery of goods, faults or damages and products not matching their descriptions.

“While 20 per cent of complaints related directly to refunds, overcharging and other money issues.”

Ms Judge said technology offers consumers many benefits, but with these benefits come new traps.

“Consumers need to be aware of the pitfalls of buying online, so they can avoid scams and costly mistakes.”

Ms Judge said online shoppers should always follow these simple rules:

  • do your research - only buy from sites you know and trust
  • check it is an established, reputable business with a physical address
  • check the site’s refund and return policy
  • look out for hidden costs such as packing, delivery or currency conversion
  • don’t provide bank account details, credit card numbers or other personal details to businesses you do not completely trust.

“I also recommend you shop around, keep receipts and carefully check your credit card statements. If you have any doubts call Fair Trading on 13 32 20.”

Contact details

General inquiries

Fair trading enquiries: 13 32 20