A Quick Guide To Safe Online Shopping

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.

However, there are certain steps you should take to make sure you have a safe, positive shopping experience. You’ll want to be sure that products arrive on time, that quality is what you expected, that items include a proper warranty in case something breaks, and that there is an easy way for you to return products or get support with any questions you have.

We’ve prepared a list of aspects that you should consider to improve the security of your shopping experience. Here they are:

Vet new-to-you businesses

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.

Do they have a good customer support?

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.

Is the site secure?

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.

Avoid offers that seem “too good to be true”

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.

If you are buying a gift card, read the T&C

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.

Watch out for store that wants more information than needed 

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.

Make your password unique

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.

Use a Credit Card or PayPal

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.

Always check company’s shipping terms

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.

You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter.

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.

Don’t fall for phishing attacks.

Enjoy your smooth and secure shopping!  :)