Today, millions of people shop online across the world. There are several reasons why people love shopping online. First, online shopping allows customers to bargain. Second, it is easier to select goods or services online. Third, it is safer. This is especially true during the COVID 19 pandemic. Fourth, online shopping is fast. For most people, online shopping is easier. More importantly, it is convenient.
But online shopping comes with some challenges. According to the FBI, online shopping increases opportunities for cybercrimes. This involves two crimes. First, some people don’t pay for delivered goods. Second, some people don’t deliver the purchased goods or services.
The challenges of online shopping can scare you. But the advantages are more. So, you need to stay calm. With the following tips, you can shop online safely.
14 Tips for Safe Online Shopping
1. Use familiar websites
A search for online shops will give you several results. If you trust any site, you are more likely to be conned. You need to find a familiar website. You can even ask friends for referrals. A familiar site is less likely to rip you off. For example, you may start with Amazon.com. You must be familiar with this website. If not, you must know some other online shops. Ensure that you visit the right site. Some people use similar names with top shops. For example, you may find Amazon.net. If you are not careful, such people can trick you. The fake sites can even offer cheaper prices. But you must avoid these offers. Chances are that they will not deliver what you purchase.
2. Ensure there is a lock
Find a secure online shop. Their website should have a lock. The site should have an installed secure socket layer (SSL) encryption. How can you tell if a site has SSL? First, the URL will start with HTTPS. This is a standard requirement for all sites. Unsecure sites will start with HTTP. Second, you will see an image of a locked pad. Normally, this will appear before the URL. A lack of these two elements should be a red flag. Avoid using your credit card on such sites.
3. Do not overshare personal data
To avoid being conned, keep personal data private. Online shopping does not need your birthday or social security number. If they ask for more details, consider it an alarm. Scammers need more personal data to steal from you. Just give little personal info. Even if you know a site, be careful. Scammers are everywhere. If they ask for more data, pose. Ask yourself why they would need that data.
4. Use Blur
Blur is an online privacy solution. It ensures that you shop online without revealing personal data. For example, Abine’s blur acts as a password manager. For less than $40 a year, you shop online with hidden personal data. This means that you don’t reveal contacts, emails, or credit card numbers.
5. Create strong passwords
Shopping online requires you to create an account. This account will need a password. If you use a weak password, scammers will crack it. Then, they can use this opportunity to steal from you. This is the reason you need a stronger password. This doesn’t mean that they won’t crack it. But at least they will have a harder time. Consider using a password manager. It will help in creating a password that they may not crack.
6. Check your statements often
The risk of fraudulent behaviors online is too high. So, stay alert always. Don’t take too long before checking your online transactions. Keep checking your accounts. Ensure that there are no unknown transactions. Scammers have many tricks to get to your money. You must ensure that they don’t get to steal your hard-earned money. Be alert even if you find charges from sites such as Venmo or PayPal.
It is also advisable that you use a credit card to shop online. A compromised debit card can land you in more trouble. Scammers can use it to access your funds in the back. Also, be alert with sellers that use payment systems like wired money. Such sellers are more likely to con you.
In case you find a problem, call relevant authorities immediately. It is good to solve any issue as soon as possible. For most banks, you only have 30 days to address a problem. After this period, you may have to be liable for the transactions.
7. Install an antivirus program
Thieves are smart. They also know you are smart. They know you may not give them more personal data. This is the reason they will try to out-smart you. They will do something that will help get your data. For example, they can launch phishing attacks. They can also use spam to steal your info. This can do this by copying a message that looks legit. Luckily, an antivirus program can help. Install the program to protect against malware. Keep it up to date. Without regular updates, an antivirus may not be helpful. It may not protect you from new threats. Being safe is better than having to deal with scammers.
8. Protect your WI-FI
You can find many free public hotspots. For example, you can find a free WI-FI at Starbucks. Well, you can use this public hotspot to shop online. Some of these free WI-FI can be trusted. The problem is that most of them cannot be trusted. They make it easy for scammers to access your data. To be safe, consider using a virtual private network (VPN).
9. Avoid online shopping in public
It may be tempting to shop online in public when you have your laptop. But did you know this is not safe! Imagine doing all this in a public café;
- Entering your credit card number
- Entering the expiration date
- Entering your 3-digit code
Doing all this in public is unsafe. It gives a scammer enough time to get your info. If you have to shop in public, find a strategic place. This will reduce the risk of exposing personal data. The best option is doing online shopping at home. This is safer.
10. Think mobile devices
Legit online shop offer apps you can use to do online shopping. When you select an online shop, check the online shopping app. Download and install it on your mobile phone. Use this app to visit the store and shop directly. This reduces the chances of being conned.
11. Pay via your phone
Today, paying for online shopping is easier. You don’t have to use a credit card. You can simply use your smartphone. You just need a mobile payment app. More places are accepting phone-based payments. This means you don’t have to carry your credit card. Apps like Apple Pay offer a safe phone payment system. You can also download and use Google Pay. What are you waiting for? Get yourself a phone payment app. Let’s avoid scammers who are always after our credit cards. You can do online shopping without the fear of losing your money.
12. Be careful with gift cards
Gift cards create a good opportunity for scammers to steal from you. This is the reason you must be very careful. You will find scammers auctioning off gift cards on different sites. Some gift card exchanges are good. They let you exchange your gift for a better one. But don’t trust everyone. Some will exchange your card for others with no value.
13. Find out about the seller
Before you do online shopping, find out more about the seller. Try and read reviews. Read as many reviews as possible. See what customers are saying. If you only find positive reviews, be careful. This should be a red flag. At least, you should find some negative reviews. No one can be too perfect.
Apart from online reviews, get some contact info. Find a real address. Also, get a working telephone number. This can help when things go wrong. For example, you can call the seller if you don’t get your order. You can also make a complaint through the physical address.
If you doubt a site, find more about it. If you have ever been tricked you know how it hurts. Just take time before you pay for any product. Some people out there are always ready to cheat others. Don’t fall into their trap. Be smart.
14. Complain and report scammers
What happens if you are scammed? First, don’t be ashamed. We all make mistakes. Take this as an opportunity to know more about online shopping. Second, talk to the seller. Complain about the failed deal. If you are not satisfied, report to the relevant authorities. You can even report to the FBI. This will work better if you do online shopping on US sites. If you are scammed in foreign sites, it may be harder to follow. Good luck.