The Little Clue On Shopping Sites That Can Help You Avoid Online Scams

Last year, Australians lost more than $340 million to online scammers.

The best way to avoid being scammed online is by doing your research.

At a time when more people are turning to online shopping for the holiday season, the advice comes from Laura Higgins, Senior Executive Leader at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

"Reading reviews and customer feedback is the first thing," she told 10 daily.

"Always do your own independent research."

While sites may look convincing, it is always important to look for safety signs to make sure they are legitimate sellers -- and the best way to do that is by using Google.

Image: Getty Image

"People are really good at making sites look real, it's an art," Higgins said.

"Avoid social media adverts, always go through links on Google."

The way a site asks you to pay is also an important factor, and avoid ones that ask for "strange" payment methods, such as through iTunes cards.

"Look for the little padlock in the corner of your screen," said Higgins.

"Lower the limit on your credit card to reduce the amount of risk you are exposed to."

READ MORE: Aussies Set To Lose More Than $100 Million to Scammers In 2018

READ MORE: FBI Warns Of International ATM Cash-Out Scheme

And once the purchase has been made, always check the bank balance, made simple by online banking happening in real time.

"Always check to see if the right amount came out, how many times were you charged," Higgins said.

"If you see suspicious activity, ask questions. Call your bank.

"Don't be complacent."

Image: Getty Image

Learning from mistakes is a way of avoiding scams in the future, and Higgins said scams happen more than people realise.

"Don't be embarrassed and share the information."

Sharing scams immunises others from falling into the same trap Higgins said.

But as with all online shopping, self-regulating is the best defence.

"Don't spend more than you can afford to lose.

Feature Image: Getty Images