7 Tips to Shopping Safely Online
Bringing the outside shopping world to the comfort of your home or office is easier than ever before. You can order food to be delivered, stream movies, and buy items you want with just a few clicks.
As a consumer who wants to continue to enjoy the benefits of shopping online, it is vital to ensure that you are doing so safely and protecting your information from getting into the hands of malicious actors.
Purchasing goods online involves a more straightforward and less stressful process than shopping offline.
Many people are choosing to take the online route whenever they want to make a purchase. The number of online shoppers has increased over the years, and with it, cases of fraud, identity theft, and security breaches have also increased.
One can never be too careful when patronising online stores and retailers. Therefore, it is essential to take adequate security measures when shopping online. A failure to do so can result in loss of money and, sometimes, properties. Here are seven tips to follow to protect your safety when shopping online.
Use Authentic and Secure Sites
Hackers get hold of people’s financial information by creating duplicates of popular online stores, usually different from the original site by a few letters or symbols.
Hence, ensure to only shop using the official website provided by the store and, if possible, bookmark it for later use.
Sites having a padlock icon on the address bar and ‘HTTPS’ on the website address are usually more secure than those without them.
Before downloading retail apps or shopping on an online store, ensure to go through their reviews thoroughly.
You can go further by checking search engines to see if their shop has been flagged for any fraudulent practices.
Take note of how long their delivery takes and if there have been any cases of the store delivering damaged or incorrect goods.
Use Strong Passwords
Avoid using passwords that are too easy to guess or too simple, as you would be providing hackers with easy access to your accounts.
It is advisable to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. The ideal password should also be at least seven characters long. Use different passwords for different accounts so that you are well protected whenever a site suffers a data breach.
Check Financial Statements Thoroughly
Take a thorough look at statements from your bank, credit card company and other financial institutions regularly.
Check every charge and biller to confirm that you actually made the purchases. If you come across any discrepancy, contact the financial institution and other relevant organizations immediately to report the criminal activity and, if possible, get a refund.
Use Secure Payment Gateways
It is recommended to use credit cards instead of debit cards when paying for goods online. This is because credit cards do not have a direct link to your bank account.
You can also use secure payment platforms as they serve as an intermediary between your bank account and the online store.
While it might seem beneficial to save your financial information on the website, your information can be compromised if the site suffers a cyberattack.
Track Your Order
Immediately after purchasing a product online, you should be able to keep track of whether it has been shipped, how long it will stay in transit and when the product will be delivered.
Hence, it is preferable to shop on sites that allow you to track your package from when it is shipped until it arrives at your home.
Save your tracking number and check the progress of shipping regularly to detect any delay quickly.
In addition, when shopping at online retailers from anywhere in the world, be sure to use a service that includes parcel forwarding and works with international courier partners to ensure that your purchases arrive safely.
Check The Stores Privacy and Return Policies
However, these documents contain pertinent details about a stores policies, what they do with clients’ data and how they protect their customers’ privacy; and as such, they should be given more than a cursory look.
Sometimes ordered goods might arrive damaged due to transportation or insecure packaging by the store. Other times, you might receive an item that looks nothing like what you ordered. Either way, there is a chance that you might need to return the product.
So, you should familiarize yourself with how the retailer handles returns and refunds. It would be best to keep receipts of your purchases as you might need to provide the information they contain when you are making a complaint.
Online shopping is more popular and easier than ever before. A huge majority of American’s shop online, as evidenced by online retail giants such as Amazon.
While the ease of online shopping makes it more appealing to consumers than visiting traditional retail stores, it does bring with it an increased risk of personal identity theft and fraud. Online shoppers are always at risk of hackers stealing their personal and financial information.
Continue to shop online safely by not letting your guard down and following the above safety precautions.
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