Online shopping is convenient, easy and fast. We can store when we need, compare costs and possess our purchases delivered to our doors. Most importantly there are no traces or supermarket parking lots to negotiate online. What’s not to like?
Retail is not any more about”bricks and mortar,” it’s all about”click and order.” More and more, we visit stores simply to see things, but then we return to buy them online at cheaper costs. If we do go out to a store it is increasingly just to pick up items we’ve bought online (avoiding shipping fees and appreciating our buys earlier ).
But as shopping from the comfort of our own home becomes part of our daily lives, it’s important to guarantee a secure online shopping experience. There are daily stories of internet fraudsters and hackers, however, the truth is that cybercriminals are not as likely to get a hold of your credit card information over the Internet than they are over the phone, via the mail or in a restaurant. Nevertheless, safe online shopping requires an excess step of vigilance.
Safe online shopping anytime, anywhere
There are some very easy steps you can take to make sure you enjoy a safe online shopping experience:
- Stick to recognizable brands you know or have heard of. But even then you need to take good care — offenders often deliberately misspell the name of their fake websites to seem like a comfortable top brand company.
- If you do buy from a new vendor, study it carefully. A good test would be to see if it could be contacted if the order goes wrong — look for an email, a telephone number or an address along with a returns policy. A vendor’s feedback history is just another good sign of honesty and dependability.
- Start looking for a URL address beginning with https:// instead of http://. Look also for a closed padlock online browser address bar — clicking or double-clicking on it you will be able to observe details of the website’s security.
- Prevent shopping via Wi-Fi hotspots — people Wi-Fi networks are typical places for hackers to catch your information.
- Use extra caution when using your mobile device for internet purchases. Shortened URLs, frequently used because they are phone-friendly, may also trick you into visiting risky websites.
- Install anti-virus software.
- Ensure that your children don’t have access to your online accounts, and restrict their access to a credit card and bank info.
Show me the money
When you purchase online:
- Be alert to the kinds of information being requested for. Don’t give out any more information than is necessary to complete your purchase. Never share personal information on the phone unless you made the call, rather than respond to any unsolicited request for personal information (especially passwords, credit card or bank account numbers).
- Only make payments online with secure, trusted methods like PayPal, Worldpay or Amazon’s Log-in-and-Pay. Whenever possible, use credit cards — your purchases will typically be insured. If you inadvertently enter your credit or debit card information into a malicious website or answer to a questionable email with that information, immediately contact your credit card company.
- Never send cash through the mail.
That’s a wrap
After you complete an Internet shopping session:
- Always log-off, especially if you share a computer with someone or if you’ve used a public computer (such as in an online Café) or Wi-Fi network.
- Maintain a paper trail; print and save records of online trades.
- Read charge card bills when you buy them and check for unauthorized charges. If there’s something unusual, report it immediately.