Six Tips for Safe Online Shopping
Online shopping has become a global phenomenon, allowing individuals to buy anything from clothing and used cars to smartphones and game consoles in the comfort of their living room. Parallel to that, the development of e-commerce has also seen the rise of a new wave of Internet-based crime. The following tips will help you to avoid the common pitfalls of online shopping which can lead to credit card fraud and identity theft.
1. Ensure website reliability
The most foolproof way of doing this is to shop on sites you already know. If unfamiliar, remember that online stores with a physical presence in your national territory are more likely to be legitimate as they are traceable. Fraudulent websites are unlikely to supply reliable contact information. If you are unsure, give the company a ring: if there is no answer in the middle of the day, ask yourself why.
If you are shopping for second-hand goods online, it is better to check for big important websites that have control over the people that post offers. We advise you to use only free classified ads that are reliable and avoid random searches that can take you to sites at risk of fraud.
2. Is the offer too good to be true?
When you see an offer ask yourself this question: is it too good to be true? If you find something that would be originally quite expensive at an extremely low price and in very good conditions ask yourself why would someone would loose money in such way. Remember to check out for more information in other websites and forums before starting to bargain with the item's seller!
3. Check the website is secure
When you come to order and are prompted to enter your personal information and payment details, check that the website is secure. There are several ways of doing this. First, look at the URL: if it is preceded by “https” then the site is secure. Second, somewhere on your screen you should find a padlock or a key or both. If the padlock is shut and the key unbroken then the site is secure.
4. Only give out essential information
5. Choose a suitable password
When shopping online, most websites will ask you to create an account with a username and password. Your password should not coincide with any passwords you already use and should be comprised of letters and numbers, not refer to anything obvious such as your date of birth, and be at least eight characters in length.
6. Beware of phishing
Phishing occurs when scammers send authentic-looking e-mails supposedly from banks, online payment service providers or online retailers to customers, telling them to follow a link in order to verify their credit card or personal information or purchase a special deal. When shopping online, ensure that you reach the website by entering the URL yourself: do not follow embedded links within received e-mails.
Online shopping is a convenient and efficient way of comparing and buying goods. However, consumer vigilance is always necessary. Just as you would not enter your pin code without sheltering it from prying eyes, personal information should not be supplied to a website without first verifying its security, authenticity and reliability. With some precaution you can easily enjoy all benefits of online shopping without being too worried about your safety online.
This article is written by our Guest Editor, Aisha Singh who takes keen interest in technology and is a avid shopper :)