What are the dangers of online shopping?
Buying on the Internet has many advantages: At any time of day or night, you can select what you want from a near unlimited supply of products both quickly and comfortably with the click of a mouse and have it sent to you by post. The selection is often bigger than in traditional stores, and it’s a lot easier to compare prices. But what if you don’t like the item you bought? What if you get caught out by a dubious online shop? And what do you have to watch out for when entering your credit card data?
Here are some tips:
- On concluding a contract: Your purchase is binding only once you have confirmed your order. The offer on the seller’s website is not a quote until your order has been placed. This also means that the seller still has to accept your order: either by confirming via email or by charging the indicated amount.
- On the right of withdrawal/right of return: The right of return without reason that is usually offered is not included in the law, but is often granted. The 14-day right of withdrawal provided for in EU law applies by law only to consumers from EU states, but is often offered to consumers from Switzerland.
- On the terms and conditions: You must agree to the applicable terms and conditions – usually with the click of a mouse. However, you must also have the chance to read or download them. Likewise, excessively strict limitations which you as a consumer cannot foresee in the terms and conditions are invalid. For example: If the terms and conditions of an online shop stipulate that you must pay CHF 1,000 per payment reminder, then they are invalid.
- Tip: Even if the website has a really good design, this is unfortunately no guarantee that it is trustworthy. If it is a new shop or a shop that you don’t know, Google it, look at its ratings (but check that it has a lot of different ratings and that they weren’t all created in a short period of time), or contact the provider first by email, chat, or phone.
- Payment by credit card: Make sure that the website is trustworthy and secure. You can recognise this, among other things, by the designation "SSL" in the address line SSL encryption (Secure Socket Layer). This can be recognised by the security symbol (lock) in your browser window or by the fact that the internet address called up begins with "https" instead of "http". Never enter your PIN for cash withdrawals online. After you have placed your order, check the amount that was charged and, if necessary, immediately lodge a complaint with your credit card company regarding the deduction.
You will find additional helpful services for shopping online under the following links. If you already have a problem with a purchase you made online, then register here. Would you like to protect yourself against such problems in the future? Then take a look at these options.
- federal government guide on online shopping
- Federal Reporting and Analysis Center for Information Assurance
- Swiss Crime Prevention on Behalf of the Cantonal Directors of Justice and Police, keyword “Internet fraud”
You can find detailed answers on these subjects in our fact sheet.