The diversity of items you can purchase online has become nearly ridiculous. As long as you have Wi-Fi, and some sort of device that has internet access, you can buy presents, school supplies, clothes, and even food, without ever leaving your sofa!
Online shopping is a luxury for today’s generations, but it has its fair share of risks. There are so many problems you can run into while shopping online – fraudulent websites, identity thieves, viruses, etc. If you want to continue using the internet for worry-free shopping, you must first educate yourself on the risks you are taking, and the precautionary methods you should use.
How to Stay Safe While Shopping Online
If you want to make sure your bank account and identity stays safe while buying your latest must-have item, you’ll probably want to take a look at these tips.
1. Don’t Click on Hyperlinks Embedded in an Email Sent from someone you don’t know
Most email websites use preventative measures to protect you from scams. But your email provider can’t stop you from clicking on something. If you insist on going to the page that link claims it will direct you to, manually enter it into your browser instead of just clicking on it.
2. Stay away from Sites that Give you a Feeling of uncertainty
You’ve heard the saying before; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If a website gives you a funky feeling, get out of it. You can usually tell a website isn’t secure if it is poorly designed – as in having bad alignment, or unorganized information.
3. Only make Purchases from Secure Websites
Though you can usually count on large corporations, such as Walmart or Dillard’s, to be safe, there are three ways to be sure the website you are on is secure: Before the domain name, there will be an ‘https’ rather than just ‘http,’ there will be an icon of a lock before the website name, or the URL will be highlighted in green.
4. Read the Terms and Conditions before you Accept them
Yes, we know almost no one actually reads these long contracts, but doing so could save you from frustration later on. Reading the Terms and Conditions of the website you purchase from will ensure you know how the shipment process works, and how to correctly return an item if need be.
5. Try not to Purchase Anything from a Smartphone
Since URLs are shorter for mobile sites, it is easier for scammers to trick you into visiting a virus filled website. Also, entering credit card and other personal information is extremely dangerous to do while logged into a public hotspot. If you can wait until you are home, and on a computer, to make your purchases, then do so!
6. Don’t Click on Popups
Sure, those little popup greetings from websites can be cute, but they can also crash your computer. Many popups are virus ridden, and ready to destroy your hard drive. Some of the greetings you come across may not even be from the website it promotes, but are made by scammers.
7. Switch up your Passwords
So many websites now require you to have a username and password to use their site. If you do chose to register for multiple sites, switch up your passwords. If you need to, keep a piece of paper with all of your logins, and hide it in a secure place.
8. Understand your Rights as a Credit Card Holder
Credit cards are the best form of payment when shopping online because the company will protect you from almost anything that could go wrong. If you notice anything fishy on your credit card statement, call up the company and they will take care of it with almost no hassle to you!
9. DO NOT ENTER YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER!
There is almost no reason for you to ever enter your social security number for an online purchase. If a website asks this of you, click out of it right away.
Though there is no way to completely shield yourself from the risks associated with online shopping, you can at least know the dangers, and know when to get away from a website.
Emma Smith works for eConsumerServices, identifying internet fraud. Since the internet has become a mainstay in most people’s lives, everyone seems to be at an increased risk from online scams. She hopes to help people avoid these fraudsters, rather than recover from the damage they inflict.