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Tips for shopping and banking safely online

17 November 2017

But how do you stay safe when you’re shopping and banking online, and what will your bank do if you lose money to a scam? As International Fraud Week wraps up, we answer some common questions and tips for safer online shopping and banking.

What security features should I look for when I’m shopping or banking online?

When you go to a banking or shopping website, make sure there is a closed padlock and ‘https://’ in the address bar at the top of the page. This indicates the communication between your device and the shopping site is encrypted, and it will be difficult for criminals to intercept or read. Remember the safest way to access any website is to type the web address directly into the browser. This will help ensure you don’t get directed to fraudulent websites; websites that pretend to be your bank, or a shopping site, but actually aren't!

Are there extra security options when I’m banking online?

Whether you’re banking or using a service to pay for your online purchases such as PayPal, always enable two-factor authentication whenever it’s offered. Two-factor authentication simply means there are two checks in place to prove your identity. An example is when you enter a password and a code is sent to your mobile phone. This way, if a criminal captures your password, it is much harder for them to access your accounts because a second factor is needed to prove identity.

What are the most common scams that catch people out when it comes to online banking?

Banking malware (malicious software that tries to steal your banking details), spam emails and business email compromise, which occurs when an attacker convinces a company to transfer funds through deception, are some of the most common online banking scams.

What are the most common scams in general?

According to Scamwatch, the most common scams Australians have reported so far in 2017 are spam emails, identity theft and false billing.

What do banks do for customers who lose money to a scam on their credit card or have their accounts compromised?

Most big banks, such as ANZ and Commonwealth Bank, offer guarantees that they’ll cover any loss due to unauthorised transactions on your account, as long as you didn’t contribute to the loss, you protected your devices and passwords and you let them know as soon as it happened.

What should you do if you get scammed?

Contact your bank straight away and discuss the best option, which is often replacing cards or resetting online access.

Staying safe

  • Keep your operating system, web browser and anti-virus software up-to-date by ensuring automatic updates are enabled or installed as soon as they are available. 
  • Create strong passwords.
  • Always log out of any internet banking session when you finish and close the browser.
  • Beware of any windows that ‘pop up’ during an internet banking session and be suspicious if they direct you to another website that asks for your customer identification or password.
  • Consider setting up daily transaction limits on your accounts.
  • Try to avoid doing any banking or shopping using public wi-fi networks.
  • Make sure you know how to stay safe when browsing the web.

Report an incident

You can report a cybercrime to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) and a scam to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.