Online shopping is the most convenient way to shop around, find the best prices, read customer reviews before making a decision and once you do make it, you can have your order delivered right to your doorstep without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home.
We’ve prepared a list of aspects that you should consider to improve the security of your shopping experience. Here they are:
Know the merchant and their reputation. Look for online reviews on third-party platforms like TrustPilot or Google Reviews, and search the internet about the brand for complaints. Check if any established industry magazines have written articles about the company you’re planning to purchase from.
Online shops do not always provide a contact number to call, but that’s not a warning sign per se. However, you should be able to contact support team of such company via other means; if a company has social media profiles such as Instagram or Facebook, send them a message and see if they respond.
Before entering any personal or credit card info onto a shopping site, see if the web address on the page begins with “https:”, not “http:” That little ’s’ tells you the website is secure and encrypted to protect your information. You can also see if the site is encrypted if it has a closed ‘padlock’ icon by its website address within your browser.
Any eCommerce site that promises too much at too low a price is suspicious. If the price is too low, consider whether the merchant came by the items legally, if you will ever receive the items you paid for, whether the items are actually the brand shown or a cheap substitute advertised as something of high quality. Look for the stores that offer a smooth money back guarantee.
If the gift card is for someone else, be sure the store is legitimate, that the person uses the store, and that there are no hoops they will have to jump through.
Expect to provide some method of payment, shipping address, telephone no or email address, but if the seller requests other information, walk away. Never give them your bank account information, social security information, or driver’s license number. Date of birth info is often a legal requirement for dangerous goods or goods available only to those over 18 years old.
If you want to register account on the store, use a complex set of lower and uppercase numbers, letters, and symbols. Avoid dictionary words and personal information, like your kid’s birthdate, your dog’s name or your favourite sports team. And, never reuse passwords across sites.
When you’re buying from a low trusted, unknown brand, do not use a debit card or check as these do not have the same security protections in place for you should a problem arise. Use Credit Card or PayPal instead.
Some merchant’s charge exorbitant shipping fees that can turn a shopping bargain into an expensive mistake. Look to see if they provide tracking and insurance. Understand what carriers they use, and be cautious if the item won’t be shipped within 10 days.
Don’t respond to emails and messages claiming you’ve won money or goods, unless it’s a contest that you actually entered. There are many contest scams that typically require you to make a “small” payment to “claim” your prize.
Be very careful before clicking on a link (even if it appears to be from a legitimate site) asking you to log in, change your password or provide any other personal information. It might be legit or it might be a “phishing” scam where the information you enter goes to a hacker. When in doubt, log on manually by typing what you know to be the site’s URL into your browser window.