Safe Shopping

The Covid Chronicles | Volume 1

A guide to keeping yourself safe online during Covid-19 lockdown.

With the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions easing in the near future expect to see a few new online services pop up, but how can you be sure these services are reliable and safe to use?
In an effort to get some credible information out to the community, I had a (virtual) sit down with Stacey from Epic Westport to provide some information about what to look for when paying for services, or setting up business online.

Q. Firstly would you like to introduce yourself?
A . Hi! I’m Amy from Tinker Creative – for those who don’t know me I run an online business providing Web Design, Development and Online Tools for customers based all over the South Island.
I’ve been in business for about 3 years, now but have almost 10 years’ experience in the IT service industry.

Q. What tips can you give us for keeping ourselves safe during these times of restricted trading?
A. From what we know so far, click and collect methods are going to become a necessity to trade during restrictions. I’ll keep it brief so we don’t loose people; but here are a few key tips I’d like to get out there!

1: Look for the Lock
Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL (address) for the site will start with HTTPS—instead of just HTTP. An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically to the left of the URL in the address bar or the status bar down below; it depends on your browser.
HTTPS is pretty standard now even on non-shopping sites, enough that Google Chrome flags any page without the extra S as “not secure.” So a site without it should stand out even more.
So any respectable business website should have this!

2: Use Payment Gateways where possible. Eg: Paypal or Stripe
Well respected Payment Gateways like Paypal and Stripe provide an extra level of protection to both customers and businesses. When a website uses this payment method you will usually be directed to a payment page or popup provided by the gateway, where your financial details and transactions are encrypted. As a customer you don’t need an account to use these services, you can just enter your credit card details; but in times like these setting up an account might be a good lockdown task to tick off – which will make online shopping a little quicker!

3: Don’t Overshare.
Be mindful of the information you share; especially in a contact form or message system. Form entries are often stored in a websites’ database, so if a site is not maintained these databases become a Goldmine for hackers. Never provide card details outside of a Payment Processor or Gateway. Ideally websites should have a Privacy Policy and methods to dispose of personal information that is collected, but this is not always the case – especially when things are setup in hurry! So just think – whatever you enter in a form, could be lurking on the big bad web for quite some time; only provide what is essential and safe.

Q. As a business owner what can I do to setup trading online?
A. That really depends on your business activities, but there are so many tools out there to make it easier and safer. There’s E-commerce websites, subscription’s to ordering apps, or simply just methods of issuing online invoices so you can receive contactless payments. The right solution for you will depend on weather you just need something temporary or are looking to invest in something long term. If you need a little guidance I’m happy to chat – send me an email at