14 Tips for Safe Online ShoppingBy Angelica Malin
Online is now the most convenient way of shopping. But are you ensuring your safety while shopping online?
Online shopping can certainly be enjoyable along with being easy. All you need to do is find the product you need from the list of products displayed online and click the Buy button. Soon enough, you will have your desired product delivered to your doorstep. The concerning fact is that not all of these transactions are completed smoothly. In the USA alone in 2019, 1,300 complaints were lodged involving thefts carried out through online mediums.
Then there are also complaints about consumers not receiving the products they ordered online. Some did not receive anything like what they ordered, while others received inferior goods. Some got scammed by flashy deals or offers they saw on online pages and portals. If you don’t want to fall prey to these scams and get all the joy sucked out of your online shopping, read these tips to know how you can avoid becoming a victim of online fraud.
Go With Reputable Retailers
Nothing is safer than shopping directly from an online boutique that you know well and trust. You can bookmark the sites you frequent most to get there quickly and easily; try not to type the retailer’s name on your browser bar when searching for it. Scammers rely on the tiniest typos to land you on a fake page that looks just like the original one. You may unwillingly be providing the scammers with your credit card number and other sensitive information by purchasing from a fake site.
Don’t Fall for Amazing Deals and Offers
You will come across many ads on popular social media sites that offer awesome offers for free giveaways or tough to pass on prices for the products you need. According to the US Federal Trade Commission, social media scams have been responsible for more than tripling the amount of money being lost over the past year. Make a conscious decision to not go for offers that seem too good to be true. It is a good idea to compare the prices on different sites and stay away from sites that offer very low prices so they can snag your personal data and/or steal money from you.
Make Your Passwords Strong
The accounts that store your private information need to have really strong passwords, as this will keep online thieves from accessing your sensitive data. You can try using a long phrase that you can easily recall and are very familiar with, but others will not be able to guess. You can also try a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, or symbols. Don’t use personal information such as your phone number, anniversary, pet name, or a child’s birthday. These can be easily guessed by others. It is best not to use the same password across different sites as a breach at one of the sites can result in the thieves being able to access the data in the other accounts.
Beware of Email Scams
You may get texts or emails which offer you great deals and awesome bargains, or ones that state that there was a problem with the delivery of your package. It is best to always delete any messages that seem suspicious and come from unknown senders. Do not click on links or open any attachments in messages from unknown senders as they might get your phone or computer infected with malware such as viruses, leaving them vulnerable for others to gain access to all the information contained in them.
Try to Pay with a Credit Card
Making online payments with a credit card makes your shopping a lot more secure, as most credit cards offer $0 liability for fraud. Using a credit card also doesn’t grant the seller any access to the money in your bank. This way, even if a thief is using your account to buy something, you won’t lose any money. The credit card company usually carries out an investigation by asking around, and they will send you a new card and block the old one.
Check Diligently for Fraud
You need to diligently check your credit card and bank statements at least once every week to see if there are any fraudulent charges. It is best if you can set up alerts to your accounts that notify you whenever there is any activity on your card. You will easily be able to monitor all changes on your account when you receive a notification instantly. If you don’t recognize the transaction, you will be able to take immediate steps.
Track the Details
Try keeping the receipts or order confirmation and tracking numbers in a safe place after you have made the purchase. In case you are not able to follow through with the order of the purchases, this information will guide you to make sense of the purchases you made. After the online purchase is done, make sure to keep an eye out to see where it’s headed. This will be another way you make sure you are getting what’s promised to you and the delivery timelines are met.
Use a Virtual Credit Card
If you think you require even stricter security, pay using a virtual credit card. Some credit card companies will issue you a temporary card number. This will be linked to the account of your credit card. When you shop with this temporary number, the seller will not be able to see the details of your real credit card. This way thieves will not be able to steal any money even if they get a hold of the virtual credit card number.
It is best to not use public Wi-Fi for shopping while you are at a busy public place. A hacker next to you might be able to see the passwords and numbers you input. Also, these public Wi-Fi networks are much easier to hack, hence putting your sensitive information at greater risk when you enter them using public Wi-Fi. If you must use public Wi-Fi, keep your data protected by using a virtual private network. Cybercriminals won’t be able to intercept your data as it will be flowing through an intercepted tunnel from your computer to the server by the VPN.
You might be stuck at home in self-isolation with no way to go out to shop, making you resort to online shopping. This might make you nervous to provide your sensitive information to online sellers. At the end of the day, it all depends on how responsibly you shop online. Hope our checklist will enable you to carry out a safe and secure purchase. Happy shopping!