Online shopping offers many advantages, including time-saving, a wide variety of options, access to discounts, and lower prices. You can also compare prices, brands, and stores to get the best deals right from your device. However, despite these benefits, online shopping is not without its cons – scams, misused privacy issues by the stores, and general internet safety issues.
It is fun to be able to find a product you love, click on buy now and have the package delivered to your doorsteps. But these transactions don’t always go smoothly. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission received 2.8 million fraud reports, with online shopping accounting for about $293 million in losses. A report by the FBI reveals that the most reported online shopping scams are related to buyers not getting the deal they paid for online.
The last thing you want to experience is a dud deal, a product that never arrives, or your credit card details getting into the wrong hands. With a bit of planning and know-how, you can be safe and smart when shopping online.
Also Read: Online Shopping Tips
Here are some vital things to know about online shopping:
Only Shop on Secure Sites
Stop and check to ensure it is secure before giving away any personal and financial details on any online store. Many websites will typically display a lock symbol in the address bar. This means the website is using a secure connection. The website’s URL should begin with ‘HTTPS.’ With these in place, you will be sure any information you enter into the site is encrypted, and hackers cannot intercept it. While you might not see the padlock symbol on every page of an online store, ensure it’s on the payment page before entering your credit card number or other financial information.
Verify a New Business before Transacting
Did you spot a fantastic deal on social media or from a new seller you’ve never purchased from? Do your homework to verify the vendor’s authenticity. Check online for reviews from sites such as the Better Bureau website for complaints from other buyers. Do quick searches with the company’s name on Google with the word scam at the end, e.g. ‘Toppy bike scam.’ You should also check the “contact us” page on the website for an address and a U.S. phone number. Be cautious if there are no multiple contact options (email, phone, live chat, or physical address).
The best way to avoid these shady merchants is to stay away from offers that seem too good to be true. These adverts are most common during the holidays when many people are doing last-minute shopping. If you’re looking to cut costs and get discounts, it’s advisable to check reputable coupon sites like scroogecoupons.com for discount coupons.
Use Credit Card Instead of Debit
Paying online with a credit card offers you better protection than debit cards. You can also generate virtual account numbers for online purchases. In case of fraud, the scammers will only be able to spend the amount you’ve loaded on the card. Also, you’ll be able to charge back through your bank. Another option is a third-party digital wallet such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal. They offer added protection since they don’t provide your credit card information to the merchant. Whether you’re paying with a debit or credit card, be cautioned if the retailer suggests you save your payment details. Unless the site uses a trusted third-party payment system like PayPal, your details might fall into the wrong hands.
Don’t Access Shopping Sites on a Public Network
It’s essential to use only trusted WiFi connections, especially when making payments or logging into online accounts. Using insecure public WiFi connections could expose your online activities to someone. Your best bet is your personal WiFi, mobile data, or WiFi network you trust. Use your device and shop in private away from curious eyes and potentially prying public devices like a communal computer – for instance, in a library.
Public computers can save login information and leave accounts vulnerable to the next user. Spyware may have been installed to record keystrokes, access passwords, and personal information even if you log out. When using your personal device, consider subscribing to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your data and provide an extra layer of protection.
Don’t Give Out too Much Information
The first rule of thumb when providing personal information to any online store is not to reveal more information than necessary for the transaction. For instance, an e-store shouldn’t request your Social Security Number (SSN).
Online shopping has no doubt simplified the shopping process for many consumers. Besides the convenience of purchasing items from the comfort of your home, you can compare products and check the reviews of other buyers. With these tips, you’ll be able to explore online shopping while keeping your financial and personal details safe.
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