Online shopping has truly revolutionised the retail world: instead of going to the shops to buy that iPad cover or a cute skirt, we now click a few buttons and it can be express posted to our door. Shopping has never been easier or more accessible, with retailers available 24/7 for us. We can shop around for different products in the comfort of our pyjamas at home.
However, a recent survey by McAfee shows that 87% of people had concerns when providing personal information online. On top of this, over half of those surveyed don’t know how to tell if an online shopping site is safe or not.
While there are definitely legitimate concerns when it comes to shopping online, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself. To help you shop with peace of mind, here are some essential tips to help you stay secure online.
Before You Buy Online
If you come across a website you want to buy from, do a background check and ensure they have a physical address and phone number. You may like to call them to see if there is a staff member to speak to, should anything go wrong. Also, remember to read customer reviews on websites like Google. A company with a lot of negative reviews could spell out trouble.
While you definitely want to look for the best deals online, it’s also a good idea to be wary of any deals that might be too good to be true. This is where comparison shopping comes in: browse on other websites that sell the same product, and see how much they have priced the product at. If the price you are looking at seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s also a good idea to read up on shipping options and delivery times, their returns and exchanges policies. When it comes to online shopping, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
When You’re Making A Purchase…
…check that the site is secure, and look for a security seal, such as the McAfee SECURE Trustmark – an indication that the site has been scanned and verified as secure by a trusted third party. Also ensure you check the web address to make sure you are on the correct website, and that the site uses encryption (the best way to tell is to look for a web address with “https” rather than “http”).
The best form of payment is a credit card as it offers better protection from fraud than debit cards. Most importantly, don’t use a public computer to shop online, and don’t shop at a site you’re not comfortable with. If there is even an inkling of doubt in your mind that the site is secure, it’s best to find another option.
On top of this, make sure you have good anti-virus software in place, such as Internet Security products. This will help you filter out malware and detect spam.
After Your Purchase…
Keep your order number and receipts in a safe place. While this information is often stored on a bank statement or emailed to you, it’s best to have a paper copy as well just in case.
When you receive your order, inspect it and ensure it matches up with the product description you were provided. If it is damaged, faulty, or incorrect in any way, return it as soon as possible to make sure you don’t exceed return restrictions.
Safety On Online Auctions
Online auctions are a fabulous way to find rare or bargain items, but these can also be rife with scams or items that are misrepresented. To make sure you have the best experience possible (and snag an awesome deal!), try to follow these steps:
- Investigate the online seller by looking at his or her profile
- Know the total cost of the product, including shipping
- Read the auction site’s policies
- Pay in a secure way (such as via credit card or Paypal)
- Inspect the goods upon reception, and report any problems with it ASAP