Online shopping is convenient and cost-effective. You get to shop from wherever you are and the items are delivered at your door. You can easily compare prices to get the best deals without having to walk from one shop to another.
However, it has some cons that you need to beware of. For instance, it exposes you to personal and banking information theft. Also, some products are not as represented online.
Below are 9 tips for safe online shopping to ensure a pleasant experience.
1. Find Trustworthy Online Shops
Do your due diligence to establish if prospective shops are trustworthy. Start by doing a simple Google search for “business name+scam” to see if there are any reported scam incidences for the business. Then, read online reviews.
Don’t just look at the overall rating of a business, read both positive and critical reviews. Check customer feedback on multiple reviews websites as some of them may be biased towards or against the business.
Find out previous customers’ experience with the business’s products, customer service, cancellation, and return policies. What is the quality of the products? How long do deliveries take? Make sure it is easy to reach customer service for assistance with issues that may arise when shopping or using the products.
For instance, consumer reviews on Pissedconsumer.com indicate customer frustration with Etsy customer service. The provided customer support phone number does not work, and even when customers email Etsy, they may not get a response from the customer representatives.
2. Confirm What You Are Buying
When shopping online, you do not have an opportunity to see what you are buying before making the purchase. You may get so excited about how the products are presented online that you fail to pay attention to their specifications and practicality.
Ascertain the product color, size, material, dimensions, etc. It will save you from buying the wrong thing and then having to go through the hassle of returning it for a refund or exchange.
3. Beware of Deals That Are Too Good to Be True
Everyone wants a good deal. Therefore, it is understandable that you would be eager to jump in on opportunities that promise to save you money. However, not every discount, sale, or offer is worth buying. Cheap online shopping can end up being costly.
Sometimes, online shops run sales to get rid of defective or low-quality products. Or, a shop could sell counterfeit products at a much lower price than its competitors. In some instances, the online shop is fake. They may have set up enticing deals on their website but do not have any products. Therefore, you pay but never receive the items ordered.
4. Avoid Shopping on Websites That Are Not Encrypted
Never shop on a website that does not have SSL encryption installed. You can easily tell if the website is encrypted by checking the URL. The protocol should be HTTPS rather than HTTP. Also, confirm a locked padlock icon in front of the URL.
SSL encryption validates the identity of a website and protects the data being sent over the server. Therefore, it prevents hackers from reading or modifying your personal and credit card information while shopping on a website.
5. Do Not Shop Over Public Wi-Fi
It is tempting to use free public Wi-Fi whenever possible. However, refrain from using it for your safe online shopping as it is prone to hacking. Hackers can intercept your connection on the network to access your personal and banking information.
Therefore, if you are sitting at a coffee shop or public library, use your data plan to browse and shop at e-commerce stores. Also, turn off all your sharing settings on your computer or phone.
6. Don’t Provide Too Much Personal Information
It is normal for online shops to ask for some personal information to fulfill your order and personalize your shopping experience. Typically, they ask for your first and last name, email address and/or phone number, and delivery address. You will also have to key in your banking information to pay at check out.
If the website is asking for too much information beyond what is necessary, do not provide it. Check out similar businesses with better privacy policies.
7. Find Legitimate Ways to Save Up on Your Purchase
There are various ways to save up on your online purchase. First, compare prices between similar shops. It’s not always about going for the cheapest offering. Rather, go for the seller offering the best value for money.
Then get coupons. Search for coupons on trusted websites or use a coupon browser extension. You could also sign up for the online shop’s newsletter to be notified when there are deals.
If your purchase is not urgent, leave items in the cart for a day or two. The seller may initially send you an email to create a sense of urgency for you to complete the sale. For instance, they may send you an email saying, “only 1 item left in stock” or “last chance to buy at this price.” Don’t fall for it. If you wait longer, they will most likely send you a discount code to encourage you to complete the sale.
8. Check Your Bank Statements Regularly
Don’t wait for the bank to send you your monthly statement. Check your credit card, debit card, and bank account statement often—preferably weekly. Look out for any fraudulent charges.
No matter how many precautions you take when using your baking information online, there is a chance that it could be compromised. If there is any fraudulent activity, you want to catch it as early as possible to prevent further charges and to stand a chance for a refund.
If you see any unauthorized transaction, investigate it and report it to the bank immediately. Have your credit or debit card blocked and follow up with the anti-fraud department of your card or bank.
9. Create Strong Passwords for Your Online Shopping Accounts
Most people don’t take their login details on e-commerce platforms seriously. Some use weak passwords and replicate the same passwords across various online shops. However, you need to put more thought into your passwords on these platforms.
Remember, you provide critical personal and banking information on online shopping websites, and you do not want it compromised. Also, if your password is easy to guess, scammers may log into your account, change your shipping address to theirs, and make orders using your payment method.
Therefore, use a strong and unique password for every e-commerce account. A strong password should have at least 12 characters. Mix the characters to include lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not use your name, date of birth, address, or phone number as the password. You can misspell words or incorporate letters from other languages.
Do not save your passwords on the browser as it is easy to hack. Instead, write down your passwords in a notebook and keep them away safely. Consider changing your passwords several times a year.
Online shopping is fun, time-saving, and budget-friendly. However, it is prone to scams that may make your experience a nightmare. Therefore, always be cautious to protect your personal and banking information and avoid falling for deals that are too good to be true.
Always check multiple websites for consumer reviews and ratings to establish if an online shop is reliable. Compare similar shops to identify which one has the best prices, customer service, and most favorable policies.
Before you check out, confirm that you have ordered the right items. Then check legitimate deals websites for discount codes or coupons to enable you to save up on your purchase.