The WWW has revolutionized the way people shop. It’s most noticeable in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic when more consumers prefer buying online than in-store. Online shopping is a great way to find cut-price deals, get purchases delivered to the doorstep, and save money.
But with the dramatic increase in popularity, it appears to be extremely lucrative for scammers to steal identity or credit card details for financial gain. It’s a good idea for you to use common sense and apply these simple hacks to improve the quality of your shopping experience.
- Shop on sites with a secure connection
Cyber thieves often use malware and viruses to obtain personal information. Using HTTPS encryption turns on the computer firewall. To check website security, look for an icon of a locked padlock to the left of the URL address in the browser bar. All data transferred over the HTTPS connection are encrypted and can’t be compromised.
- Double-check the merchant
Shopping online with a reputable retailer is safe. But a bit of research is required if using e-commerce websites for the first time. Checking their online reviews on sites like PissedConsumer.com, Yelp.com or BBB.org provides you with relevant information for vendor appraisal and selection. Consumer reviews reflect real shopping experience on a number of crucial issues including return policy, deadline management, shipping terms, and customer support.
If you are in doubt about product quality or warranty compliance, you can also browse shopping complaints or vendor ratings on Google or online review websites. They should help you to keep safe online. Reading shopping reviews left by customers who have already used a particular e-commerce website would give a good insight if this e-store is trustworthy or not.
- Beware of amazing deals
If deals seem too good to be true, they probably are. Most phishing attempts are made via emails, SMS, and social media. Before clicking such links, you’d better compare prices and check whether a marketing message is legit. Online shopping reviews on consumer platforms and forums may help you verify that everything is real before moving forward.
Unusually low prices should be a red flag that buyers will never receive the items they paid for or will be redirected to a fake website developed to trick them into sharing personal data.
- Use strong passwords for online accounts
A password that is used for online accounts should be unique and strong so that fraudsters couldn’t hack it. Reusing passwords across e-commerce websites can also result in a data breach. It is better to make sophisticated passphrases that nobody can guess. Buyers who can’t memorize or change passwords can use special password management software or tools to keep up with everything.
- Pay with credit, not debit
Financial transactions completed with credit cards offer some kind of protection by limiting the user’s liabilities. In case of financial information stealing, money remains untouched in the buyer’s bank account. Debit cards don’t have such security precautions. According to the PissedConsumer.com reviews left in the E-Commerce category, chargebacks are often used to resolve disputes with unfair websites. Alternatively, online services like PayPal don’t allow scammers to get hold of your banking information. Online payment platforms such as Google Pay operate in a way that a retailer never even sees the payment information.
Checking your credit card history regularly is also a good solution to monitor your account activities.
- Check the company shipping and return policies
A lot of shopping reviews refer to shipping and return issues. Before buying a product online, a consumer would rather find out whether a vendor accepts returns and exchanges. It is also useful to check if they provide tracking and insurance.
To make an online purchase the following data are often required:
- shipping address;
- credit card number and CVV.
No fair retailer would ask for a security or ID number. The more scammers find out, the easier it is to steal the identity. The required information per purchase should only be entered. Never overshare!
- Keep anti-virus software up-to-date
Online shopping can turn into the race for the best deal. Jumping from one site to another could result in a victimized PC. Even reputable online retailers could be hacked so that visitors pick up digital viruses. The best way to stay safe online is to complete regular updates to the anti-virus programs.
Frequent online shoppers can also consider such Internet security products as anti-phishing and identity theft protection software and tools. Functional capabilities for system security are more important than ever.
Using public Wi-Fi isn’t recommended since a private data connection is more secure. To safely shop from anywhere a VPN should be applied.
Shopping online involves more than just getting the best deal from the comfort of your home, it can turn out into frauds, delays, hidden fees, and unexpected charges. By following the above-stated shopping tips each buyer can stay safe and enjoy their online shopping experience.