Shopping has become a predominantly online activity in today’s world. With that in mind, many shoppers don’t actually know how to properly and safely brave the uncharted waters of the internet. What used to be a purely optional skill or ability, being a good internet “surfer” has become a necessity. The consequences of some mistakes that you can do while shopping online can be catastrophic, so let’s see what are the dos and don’ts of online shopping.
Do always shop from home
More precisely, do your online shopping from a private network connection. Accessing a public Wi-Fi connection is an easy deal for most, if not all, hackers. Keep that in mind and evade shopping from public networks like airports, hotels, cafes, and other public hot-spots.
Don’t click on every ad
Every time you go on Facebook or other social media platforms, you will find advertisements for some super awesome deals. Most of the time, they sound too good to be true. That’s because they are. Those ads won’t necessarily lead you to where you think you’re headed. So when you notice a particular deal, have a look at the company advertising it and, instead of impulsively clicking on the ad, head on to their website directly.
Do get an anti-phishing toolbar or app
Phishing is the act of obtaining sensitive information by disguising yourself as a trustworthy party. Remember this when you get those annoying pop-ups or when you’re asked for information that you don’t necessarily need to provide. What’s more to it, most of these toolbars or apps are free, so you can be protected at no cost.
Don’t use your business or personal email addresses
The best way to go is to create a brand new email address, with the sole purpose of online shopping. This way, you don’t put your important email addresses and the information within them at risk, while also dodging the spam that comes with online shopping. All those special offers and coupons will still be there for you, just not mixed up in your more important inbox.
Do visit a retailer’s official website
Make sure to head on directly to the retailer’s website. You could bookmark those addresses, so you can easily access them. When looking for a certain retailer through a search engine, there’s always the risk of ending up on a fake website. Always check the address bar for the “https” tag, which means that your information is transferred safely and privately.
Don’t give out too much information
You might be wondering about how much is too much information. What most retailers will ask, and what you can feel safe giving out is your name, address, phone number and credit card number. Giving out your driver’s license number, social security number or bank routing numbers is a big no-no. When a site asks for a little too much information, it’s better to be safe than sorry and navigate away from it.
Do check how much you’ve been charged
As with regular shopping, always make sure to check your credit card bills. You could also sign up to have your bank send you emails to authorize purchases. Store your credit card bills and authorization requests in a separate folder so you will have them organized and easy to access whenever you might end up needing them.
Don’t wire money
Whatever and wherever you’re shopping, never wire money. Stick to credit or debit cards, so you can dispute fraudulent charges if it comes to that. Otherwise, if you wire your money and get scammed, you aren’t getting it back.
Do limit information access on handheld devices
When using shopping apps, you will be asked to confirm their access to information. Use the ones that ask for the least amount of it. When asked to save passwords or credit card information, always press “no”. You never know when you might lose your phone, and if you’ve saved that information, it won’t be just the phone that you will lose.
Don’t reload confirmation pages that seem to be stuck
When shopping online, sometimes you might get stuck on the confirmation or check out pages. It might be a habit to just reload the page, but resist doing it! The information might be re-sent, and you can end up ordering the same thing several times. If the confirmation site seems to be stuck, close it, re-open the website from scratch, and log into your account. Check your order history to see if the order went through and, if not, go ahead and try to purchase the product.
Online shopping has become a daily habit nowadays, and it’s important to be well informed and prepared to do it safely. Don’t let that nice jacket cost you more than an arm and a leg. Remember to have an antivirus software installed and active, on both your phone and your computer. Stay safe and happy shopping!