Online shopping can be a pretty addictive activity. Studies show 83% of online shoppers end up satisfied with their purchase, and two-thirds of Americans aged 50+ buy their goods online.
But, is online shopping safe?
While online shopping is bigger and more convenient than ever, with a huge collection of goods right at your fingertips, it’s easy to get carried away and miss the bad guys that lurk around. These are the thieves that steal your online and offline identity such as your crucial login details and credit card info without you knowing. Malware also exists to put your online privacy at risk.
It’s pretty clear that online shopping is here to stay, and that we will continue to buy our goods online. As evidenced by the statistics above, online shopping can indeed be a safe activity when done right.
So, how do we know when we are shopping in a safe and secure online store? Here are some online shopping safety tips to always assure you a safe shopping experience.
Be wary of obvious signs of a scam site.
There are some telltale signs of a website out to scam you. These include misspellings of popular and major retail sites like Amazon or ones using a different domain, such as .net instead of .com. If the site has sales and offers that really seem too good to be true, and exhibits other signs as well, it probably is.
Know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS.
A great way to see if a site is secure is to look at your address bar and check to see if there is a lock icon followed by a URL beginning with HTTPS. This means that there is SSL or secure sockets layer encryption installed. It’s not necessary that every page in the website has it, but it does need to be on the page where you give out your credit card information (i.e. the checkout page).
Certain online shops that aren’t here to scam will still have HTTP in the URL but with your checkout page redirected to a secure page. Some will direct you to a trusted off-site page where you will spot both the lock icon and HTTPS in the URL.
Create strong passwords.
Strong passwords make it harder for hackers to get your details. Keep them long and strong with a mix of letters, numbers, symbols and with both uppercase and lowercase included. Just be sure it’s something you will remember too!
Don’t give all your information away.
The more you give away, the easier it will be for thieves to steal your information and thereafter, your identity. Things like your social security number are never needed for online transactions, so it should ring a bell if a site asks for it. You should also be wary of phishing where emails are sent to you asking for your credit card details. Genuine companies will not ask for your personal information via email. Do not reply to these or click on any of the links they provide.
Opt to pay via credit card instead.
The safest method of payment is a credit card. With debit cards, there will be no limit as to how much cyber criminals can steal from your bank. However, if you pay through your credit card, a pre-existing limit is set and you also have the option to seek credit from the company in a scenario like this. Sending cash by mail or wire are other unsafe ways of making payment, as you will not be able to seek compensation in the event of a scam.
Paypal is another good method of payment that offers additional security to the consumer. Your sensitive account information is entrusted to a single company as opposed to several when you use credit cards. However, for its ability to provide you with the strongest protection against fraud, credit cards could prove to be the safer method.
With all these tips to guide you, you can be assured of a safe online shopping experience and reap all the benefits that come with it: fast shipping, delivery, huge selection of products that you want, and all at the comfort of your home (or anywhere else you are using the sites from)!