The internet is ever evolving, and it can be tricky to keep up and to stay safe online. Douglas Adams, an English writer wrote in “The Independent on Sunday” in 1999 – “The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened form takes three times longer to say than what it’s short for”. Previously an important start to a website now, do you remember the last time you said ‘dub-dub-dub-dot…” let alone typed it?
Luckily things have become a little more user friendly. Here are some tips for what to look for before you even start scrolling through a website:
Many websites now ensure they have a secure connection – look for the padlock in the address bar (we have one!). The website should also start with https:// – the ‘s’ stands for secure. A secure connection has digital security that encrypts or muddles your data so a third party cannot view it.
The first thing to remember, is anyone can have a .co.nz website – not every company is New Zealand based. Regardless of their base, they can be anywhere in the world. Keep this in mind when purchasing products online.
Different countries have different country codes, similar to area codes on your landline. .co.nz is New Zealand, .com.au is Australia, .hk is Hong Kong for example. The country code extensions are usually managed by a branch of the local government. It is the country’s government who controls, polices and sets the rules for their extension and who can register a domain.
.govt.nz websites – think ird.govt.nz, beehive.govt.nz and so on are all governmental websites. Only the New Zealand Government can hold one of these websites so these can be trusted.
.org or .org.nz websites were traditionally for not for profit organisations however this has changed. Owners do not need to submit any documentation proving they are not for profit meaning they can be a profitable company.
.net websites were originally intended for networking technologies for example web service providers but this is less common in recent times. .com or .co.nz websites generally have become more popular.
If you’re planning on purchasing from a website using your credit card, ensure the site is secure (the address starts with https:// ). Avoid using your credit card when you’re using a free or public internet service. Say free WIFI at the airport, hotel or in a public place – this even applies if you have been given a password. You can’t guarantee the network is secure – meaning an ill meaning person could access the information you type in to your computer (think your little sister picking up the phone extension in the other room and listening in, only more sinister).
Depending on the website you purchase from, you may be purchasing in any currency – check the currency and the exchange rate that your credit card is using. There may also be a small credit card transaction fee or postage so check the final amount when you’re at the online ‘checkout’.
Generally, you will be asked for your CVV number –the 3 digits on the back of the card. NEVER enter your pin number or online banking password when purchasing from a website. This is how scammers can create duplicate cards with pin numbers or access your online banking.
Some sites offer a middleman when purchasing. PayPal is a well-known middleman. They receive the payment then pass on to the seller so the seller cannot see your bank details.
Unless you give express permission, websites should never store your credit or debit card details. If you make regular online purchases such as tickets or shopping this may be easier, but it is much safer to re-add your details each time.
Remember when buying online, like many things, if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. And if in doubt – ask someone you trust.