Let’s face it, the majority of us are doing some form of online shopping during COVID-19. It’s convenient, quick and there are plenty of online sales/discounts. Plus, it allows us to stay out of the shops, stay safe and shop from the comfort of our own home. While all this is true, there are some risks to be aware of when shopping online – whether you are purchasing a food shop from your local supermarket or ordering clothes from Ireland, the UK or EU. There are risks associated with all. 

5 top tips for online shopping:

  1. Is the website trustworthy? Only buy from reputable websites. A top tip is to visit the brand’s social media profiles and check for the ‘blue tick’.  
  2. Are they asking for a lot of personal information? When buying online, typically a website will require your email address, home address, and a payment method (credit/debit card or PayPal). They might also require a contact number. However, if they are seeking unnecessary personal information, do not give it! 
  3. Outside Ireland or the EU? Always double check you’re purchasing products in €. Be aware of the currency rates and additional custom charges for orders outside Ireland (especially any ‘Brexit’ charges!).
  4. Avoid using public Wi-Fi: Free public Wi-Fi is available everywhere and may save you on your phone bill, but it’s risky. Using public Wi-Fi is an easy way for hackers to access your financial or personal data. Stick to private Wi-Fi or mobile data.
  5. Clear the cookies! Finally, it’s recommended that you delete your payment details and clear your cookies from a website, as soon as the purchase is made.

One major ‘pitfall’ of online shopping is the lack of ‘barriers’ to making a purchase and the euphoria a person experiences when the doorbell rings with a new delivery! Making a purchase online is a frictionless experience, so it’s important to be aware of the pitfalls, the signs and knowing what to do.  
It is also important to know your consumer rights when it comes to making purchases online, especially if buying from the UK or outside the EU. Did you know there’s such a thing as a refund ‘cooling-off’ period? Do you know what to do if something is damaged or does not fulfil the expectation as described on the website? You can find more information about your consumer rights on the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) website.

We are all feeling that temptation to online shop during COVID-19 and lockdown to ‘treat’ ourselves. So don’t worry, you are not alone. Is there something else that you can do to fill your time? More baking perhaps or a new hobby like mooing – it’s a thing! But seriously, if online shopping is a means of ‘passing time’ for you, ask yourself, is there something else I can do? Something that will help you avoid getting into avoidable debt!

For more information, visit our MABS blog to check out more online shopping tips.

Do you have money saving tips to share with your fellow students? Perhaps you have a skill that you live by that helps you keep control on your money. Let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #MABSStudentCents. We’d love to hear your ideas. Don’t forget to follow us too at @MABSInfo for more top tips!

MABS is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board.