Safety Tips When Shopping Online

Happy couple shopping online

Daily it is becoming more and more beneficial to shop online. The bargains are there. The selection is vast and varied. Shipping is fast. Even returns are pretty easy, with the right e-tailers. Shopping has never been easier or more convenient for consumers. So how do you shop online without the worry and hassle of predators? There are some easy steps which can avert some of the pitfalls associated with online shopping.

Use Familiar Websites

When shopping online, it is better if you use a site that you trust.  Use a reputable site such as Amazon, Newegg, Bath and Body Works.  If you do a search using a search engine for an online retailer, be very careful as some of the results could return sites managed by hackers and phishers to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links.  Beware of sites that are spelt incorrectly such as Amazon.com or sites with a popular website name, but a  different top-level domain (Amazon.net instead of .com, for example). These types of sites are all over the Internet.  Be very careful with divulging any personal information on such sites. Additionally, even though you know Amazon, I am sure they cannot vouch for all their merchants, they do however have a nifty feature “Fulfillment by Amazon” so that even though it is a different merchant, your item is in essence vouched for by Amazon who have all the safety and security features set up for their valued customers.

Use a Secure Website

When buying goods online, ensure that before you issue your credit card information, that the site is secure.  To check if a site is secure, you can do a couple of things.  Check to see if the site has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. A site has SSL when the URL for the site starts with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). If you look at the  status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar you may see an icon that looks like a padlock to indicate a SSL session.

If you are using the latest browser technology and the shop has the latest website security, known as an Extended Validation SSL Certificate, your address bar may turn green when you are on a secure site.

If you get a warning about a certificate be very cautious indeed. However, the padlock is not an absolute guarantee of safety and it says nothing about the business’s ethics.

Click on the padlock to check that the seller is who they say they are and that their certificate is current and registered to the right address.

Don’t be fooled by a padlock that appears on the web page itself. It’s easy for conmen to copy the image of a padlock. You need to look for one that is in the window frame of the browser itself.

Never, give anyone your credit card over email. Ever.

Ensure the safety of your PC

Ensure when shopping or online, or even just using the internet that you have a computer system that can stand up to some kind of online attack. Ensure that you have some of the latest and best antivirus, antimalware and antispyware available. Use strong passwords; make sure to utilize uncrackable passwords, but it’s never more important than when banking and shopping online. This can come in handy when shopping around probably means creating new accounts on all sorts of e-commerce sites.

Pay By Credit Card

Credit cards offer you an extra level of protection including the right to “charge back” if you feel you’re a victim of fraud. The credit company will investigate your claim and permanently remove the charge if fraud can be proven.

Also some credit card companies offer extra protections including extended warranties and protection against loss or theft. Unless you’re very sure about the merchant, don’t provide them with a checking account number and never disclose any personal information to online merchants.

It’s also a good idea to check your online credit card statement frequently. Most credit card companies will display recent charges online within a few days of the actual transaction.

Know the real item cost

When purchasing an item online, the item cost is not the only cost involved.  There are usually shipping and handling fees, and sales tax. All of these would affect the total price of the product.  Be sure you understand the merchant’s return policies including the deadline for returns and what documentation you’ll need. In most cases, they won’t refund the shipping charges and you’ll have to pay to ship it back. Always keep your packing until you’re sure you’re not going to return it.

Know when it’s too good to be true

If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.  The “coupon scam” offers of a free product with purchase, in particular an iPad (a very coveted gadget) or job offers. Many of these “offers” will come in via social media. Beware even of your friends, who might innocently forward such a thing. Be very wary even if you get a message from friend claiming he or she has been robbed, especially a friend overseas looking for money to be wire transferred, unless you absolutely can confirm it by talking to him or her personally. Skepticism in most cases can go a long way toward saving you from a stolen card number.

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