As people gear up for the traditional pre-Christmas shopping bender, the NSW government is warning consumers that payment methods for online transactions are not always secure.
Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said a survey commissioned by his department revealed that many Australians were being put at risk by this lack of security.
'Australian consumers spend more than $11 billion every year online and it is vital those transactions are secure,' Mr Roberts said in a statement on Sunday.
Fair Trading had commissioned a survey of 1000 consumers and 200 small and medium businesses after receiving more than 7000 complaints about online retail over the past financial year, Mr Roberts said.
'Forty-eight per cent of businesses surveyed do not use a secure webpage for payments or collecting personal details and only 33 per cent of businesses have a risk management procedure in place to deal with security breaches,' he said.
The survey also showed that only 52 per cent of online retailers have a returns policy, 59 per cent made their terms and conditions available online and only 45 per cent provided details about delivery times and costs.
Online trade accounts for five per cent of retail spending in Australia but it's expected to grow between 10 and 15 per cent per annum over the next three years, the survey revealed.
Fair Trading has released a new website that Mr Roberts said would provide 'online shopping tips and suggested security precautions' as well as a fact sheet to help retailers improve their transaction security.
'Seventy-three per cent of all online sales are within Australia and local retailers need to repay that faith by ensuring consumers are protected,' Mr Roberts said.
More information about online trading can be found at the department's website www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au