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Stay safe when you are shopping online

Shopping online is convenient, but it can come with online security risks. Before you buy, check the website is legitimate and that your personal information and credit card data will be secure.

Why it matters

If an online shopping site is not registered in New Zealand and something goes wrong with your order, you do not have the same legal rights as if you'd bought from a New Zealand store.

So before you buy something online, you need to feel confident that the company or person you're buying from:

  • is who they say they are
  • will deliver exactly what you ordered in good time
  • has measures to keep your personal information and payment details secure, and
  • is contactable if there's a problem with your order.

The risks

Lately we've seen more and more websites operating from overseas that make it look like they are a real New Zealand business – but they're actually foreign scam sites.

They might:

  • use a URL
  • have a New Zealand phone number
  • show an image of a New Zealand flag, or
  • state that they are New Zealand based.

A common example is foreign scammers setting up a website that claims to sell big brand shoes for very low prices, with a web address. Buyers might receive imitation shoes, an entirely different product to what they ordered – or never receive anything at all.

How to protect yourself

  • Be wary of suspicious sites

    Look for signs to confirm if an online store is legitimate or not. Some signs that a website is suspicious are:

    • bad spelling, grammar or design, broken links or missing pages
    • sites that have an odd combination of brands or goods, like trampolines and coffee plungers
    • sites where the URL doesn’t seem to match what they’re selling – for example, if Bob’s Sporting Goods ( was selling women’s high heel shoes
    • negative online consumer feedback and reviews – or overly positive feedback and reviews that feel or look fake
    • they don’t list a physical address, or the physical address is not for a retail shop
    • they don't list a phone number, or the phone number isn't working
    • their social media links don't work, or they only have a handful of followers
    • they don’t display terms of trade (including return policies) or fully disclose costs (such as shipping and delivery)
    • the goods they sell are much cheaper than anywhere else. If a deal seems too good to be true it probably is.

    Is the offer too good to be true? – Domain Name Commission

  • Check the company is a registered New Zealand business

    A website with '.nz' at the end isn’t always a New Zealand business. So, if it looks local but feels funny, check if the company is registered to sell products in New Zealand.

    You can check:

    • if the owners of the domain name are registered in New Zealand by searching the New Zealand Domain Name Commission register
    • if the business is a registered New Zealand company in the Companies Register.

    NZ Domain Name Commission

    Companies Register

  • Make sure your personal information is secure

    Look for a padlock symbol next to the in your browser, or check the  URL starts with https:// rather than http:// – this means that the connection from your browser to the web server is encrypted and no one else can copy information you send. Don’t submit any personal information on a page that doesn’t have this.

    Be careful using public and WiFi connections that are not secure, especially if you're logging in or paying – someone could see what you’re doing. The best option when shopping is to use your personal WiFi, mobile data or a WiFi network you trust.

  • Only use trusted payment systems

    Use trusted payment systems, like PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Wallet, and avoid supplying payment details in an email.

    Only save payment details for next time if the website uses a trusted third-party payment system.

    Keep an eye on your bank or credit card statements for unusual activity. If you spot something, contact your bank immediately.

    Identify a scam – Consumer Protection

Get help

Consumer Protection and Netsafe have advice about what to do when things go wrong when you're shopping online.

Online shopping – Consumer Protection

Shopping online safely – Netsafe

You can also report an online issue or security incident to us at CERT NZ.

Get help now