These days, online shopping is becoming more often than not the go-to method for shopping for virtually anything.
Not only is it convenient that you can shop right from the comfort of your couch, but you can look up the best options around the world for whatever you’re interested in, just to make sure you’re getting the best price.
Of course, you also get to skip the crowds and long lines if you’re shopping during the holiday season.
Even though shopping online is getting much more common-place, it’s important not to get too comfortable.
There is a lot more personal and financial information involved when you’re shopping as opposed to when you’re only browsing the news, for example.
So, what should you do when shopping to ensure you’re doing it safely?
Don’t shop on public WiFi
I know it’s tempting to get a bit of shopping done while you have a few minutes of free WiFi while you’re sipping on your morning coffee at the coffee shop, however, this could put you at risk.
It’s easy for others to snoop on your traffic, capture your credit card number and even your passwords. Even if you think you’re using a secure connection.
Don’t shop on insecure websites
Any time you’re entering a credit card number or any other sensitive information, it’s always good to ensure you’re sending it over a secure connection. That way, anyone who is snooping on you can’t actually see the information you’re sending.
How do you do that? By first checking in the address bar (that’s the box you enter the website address you want to go to) that https:// comes before the address of the site you’re visiting.
Second check if there is a green lock to the left of the address bar or near the bottom of your browser (the actual placement depends on your browser).
Thirdly – and this is an important step – ensure that the whole website URL after the https:// is exactly what you are expecting, and it isn’t misspelled. It’s become much easier for people to register dubious domain names that look like the original but are in fact fake website and have them be legitimately secure.
Keep an eye out for scams
if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
There are always a large number of scam sites out there, and they seem to always intensify around major shopping holidays around the world.
Don’t “save your info for later”
If the website you are shopping on gives you the option to save your credit card number or other personal information for later, it might be best to decline.
Why? Because this means the website has your information on file. If they happen to be breached for whatever reason, there is a good chance your credit card number or other information could be compromised as well.
This can become quite an inconvenient. Especially if you don’t find out about the breach for a while.
Watch your email
During all of the big shopping seasons, spammers like to take advantage and send malicious emails and texts that appear to be coming from somewhere you may have made a purchase in order to steal your information or infect your machine.
Be smart and if there is any doubt about the email or text, don’t trust it and go directly to the real website instead.
Also, if the email you received is from a website you normally buy things from, consider whether this is a normal email you’d expect from them. If not, it might be a scam.
For more tips on detecting phishing, click here
Stick to the familiar spots
Just like other industries, the online retailing industry isn’t immune to phishing websites being set up to lure you into providing your personal information. Stick to shopping on websites you know are reputable and can trust.
This trust also goes farther than just being confident that they’ll deliver you the product you purchased.
If you want to branch out, check them out
If you must use a new shopping website before you make a purchase or hand over any information be sure to check out the website and company.
Find ratings and reviews that you know you can trust. Do other people like them? Are there any reputable reviews who did receive what they ordered? How was their experience?
Do they have terms of service, privacy and return policies? Check if these raise any red flags.
All in all, online shopping can save you tons of time and even provide more selection and variety. However, there are those out there who would like nothing more than to take advantage of your comfort with shopping online to con you into handing over your hard earned money or your personal information.
That shouldn’t cause any stress, though. With a little due diligence and by being careful with how and where you shop, you can shop with the confidence that not only did you get a great deal, but you did it while protecting your information and your wallet.