Online shopping is more popular now than ever before. You can get just about anything you need online, with so many retailers offering next-day or even same-day delivery. There are many shopping options, and there has never been a better time to shop from the comfort of your own home.
However, with a sharp increase in online shopping sales, unfortunately, comes a rise in scams, with fraudsters inventing new ways to take advantage of online shoppers every day. Don’t worry, though; there are ways to ensure that you stay safe when shopping online. As long as you follow some basic guidelines each time you make an online purchase, you can protect your personal information.
Only Shop With Reputable Retailers
These days it is so easy to set up a website and start selling. For this reason, you must do background research on a company before you consider making a purchase.
To ensure your safety when shopping online, it’s best to stick to trusted retail sites. You can feel comfortable shopping online with well-known brands because they’re large companies that invest in creating secure payment and checkout methods.
Be aware that people set up websites that are copies of well-known sites to scam you. Make sure you have the official site name in your browser bar to avoid getting caught unaware. If the company you are considering purchasing from is not a well-known seller or a brand you have bought from before, do some background research.
Check that the company has a physical address. You also want to make sure they have a phone number or email address that you can use to contact them should there be a problem with your order. Another way to vet a business is to check out their reviews on sites such as Google and Yelp – but make sure you are savvy and look out for fake reviews.
Check the Site’s Security Before Buying
One simple thing to always look out for when shopping online is a site’s security setup. You may have heard of an SSL certificate. SSL certificates or secure sockets layer certificates mean that a site has a certain level of encryption to protect its users. Look out for the lock icon in the browser bar of the site to verify this.
A site with an SSL certificate will also have a URL starting with “HTTPS” rather than just “HTTP” in the browser bar. Shopping on secure sites means that the data you share is safe and encrypted, especially when entering personal and financial information.
Always Use Strong Passwords
The majority of people out there aren’t using secure passwords when shopping online. It makes sense to choose passwords with complex sets of letters, numbers, and symbols. It is also essential to regularly change these passwords.
Many people save sensitive information in their online shopping accounts, including addresses and credit card details, to speed up the shopping process at the checkout. However, if you have a password that is easy to guess or one that you haven’t changed in a long time, you are leaving yourself open to this information being stolen and used. And remember, never use the same password across multiple sites because this puts you at a much higher risk of attack from fraudsters.
Pay Using Secure Methods Only
When shopping online, it’s always best to use the most secure payment methods possible. Credit cards usually offer the best kind of protection against online fraud. Since a credit card won’t give a seller direct access to the funds in your account, it is a much safer way to shop than using a debit card, where funds can be directly withdrawn. Most credit cards are also required to offer a certain level of protection against fraud.
If you don’t want to use a credit card or don’t have one, other payment methods are available to use securely online. You could use PayPal or another payment service such as Google Wallet to ensure your protection.
Keep a Record of Your Online Shopping Purchases
When shopping online, make sure you hold on to any information relevant to your purchase. Just as you would keep a physical receipt if you were shopping in-store, hold on to emailed receipts and other information regarding your online purchases. It is always advisable to record things like your order number, product codes, descriptions, and prices paid.
Also, keep a record of any communication you have with the online seller. This may come in handy if a problem arises at some point during your purchase.
Use Private Wi-Fi
To give yourself the most significant degree of protection when shopping online, it is best to use your private Wi-Fi connection. Using wireless networks in public can open you up to a whole host of security issues. Hackers can get on to public Wi-Fi systems and spy on your activity, stealing your sensitive information.
If you choose to use public Wi-Fi for any reason, the best option is to use a VPN. A virtual private network means the connection between your device and the server is encrypted, giving you a layer of protection. This protection means that any potential cybercriminals aren’t able to intercept your sensitive personal information.
Stay Safe When Shopping Online
It’s best to trust your gut instinct when online shopping. If you get an email or see a deal that seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Hackers and scammers know how to reel you in with enticing ads and false web pages so they can harvest your information when you checkout on a fraudulent site. Be especially aware of exceptional deals posted on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram since social media online shopping scams are becoming more commonplace.
By paying close attention to these online shopping tips, you can enjoy the convenience of buying digitally without worrying about compromising your private information. Remain vigilant and invest your time and money in well-reviewed sites that offer secure, encrypted payment options.