Family Finance

by Crown Financial Ministries

Shopping online

Without a doubt, not only is online shopping here to stay, but before too much longer it will most likely rival "brick and mortar" stores as Australia's most favoured method of shopping. But there are many questions regarding safety, impulse buying and the ethics of avoiding tax.

Is it safe?

According to New York Times columnist, Peter H. Lewis, speaking in defense of online shopping says, "Sending a credit card number to an electronic merchant over the Internet is probably the safest way to make such a transaction." Most major commerce Web sites tend to agree.

If a person's credit card information is encrypted over a secure site when it is transmitted, then it should be safe. Here are a couple of things a person can check to ensure that a Web site is safe.

On the page where the credit card number is entered, at the top left of the browser window should be an icon of a closed lock if the site is a secure site. A closed lock indicates the data transferred is encrypted. Make sure the website you are on is the true home page of the online vendor or bank – a simple check of an online search engine will tell you.

If you are still apprehensive or have questions, you might want to contact the vendor via telephone or e-mail and ask them any questions you might have before making any online purchases.

Never buy on impulse

Do not buy anything that is over $10 that has not been budgeted. Just because you feel you might be able to afford it does not mean you have to buy it.

Get two prices on anything before you buy it (for many products, the Internet makes it easy to "shop around").

Never send your credit card account number, password, or any other sensitive data over the Internet unless it's encrypted.

Pay your credit cards off every month.

The very first month you have a credit card bill that you cannot pay in full, destroy the credit card.


With each passing day, the Internet becomes more integrated into the operations of western business and commerce. In turn, exposure to innovative online services and opportunities has brought about lasting changes for professionals and families as well. In all likelihood, these changes will probably intensify as the Internet increasingly influences our way of life.

As such, because of its convenience, online shopping will probably increase to the point that it could easily be the principal purchasing tool of the future for most families. Therefore, it is important for all of us to understand how to shop online safely, wisely, and not impetuously by following the simple suggestions mentioned above.

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