Shopping online has gone from being something of a risky luxury to something pretty much every one of us does every day, all in a relatively short space of time. Though it’s an action we take part in regularly it’s still, for many, not one that we think enough about.
There are many ways in which online shopping has aided our everyday lives and it’s something that we can’t really do without, especially in the latter stages of a pandemic that has severely restricted our movement.
Latest statistics show us that worldwide the number of online digital shoppers stands at around 2.14 billion, that equates to around one in four (and clearly that percentage changes when you factor in those who are too young to do so).
The rate in which we shop online is another figure that’s risen sharply, with the number of purchases showing an increase of 900 million, that’s a 4.4% increase year on year. This number has been aided by the arbitrary creation of online shopping days, such as Prime Day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday.
We can all agree that the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to online shopping, with the issues of cost, availability and range being key reasons why we shop online, there are however many issues to consider and obstacles to overcome if you want to shop safely online.
Here are seven handy tips to making sure your online purchase doesn’t come with a side-order of identity theft or other fraudulent activity.
Do Your Research
In the same way as the internet offers us countless options when it comes to buying an item or service online, it also provides us endless information about each service. Therefore you can do the relevant research about an online shop or business long before you give them any vital banking information.
Similarly there are entire websites dedicated to offering honest, genuine reviews of online shopping services, an example we’d recommend you browse around this website for hugely important information that could offer you precisely the input you need before deciding to complete your purchases at a relevant retailer.
By checking out what others have said about a service you should be able to stay one step ahead of those that are clearly scams or untrustworthy.
Make Sure You Have Up to Date Virus Protection
Some services are built solely to build a bridge between themselves and your data, they do this by latching into your system via fake web pages and software that can record keystrokes and break into your computer or device to secure key information.
One quick and easy way to prevent this is to make sure you have adequate virus protection on your devices. Many people make the mistake of ignoring the need for the defense that antivirus offers them, or more frequently don’t realise when it’s out of date. This is one area you can easily fix and should be dealt with long before you buy online.
Don’t Use Public Internet
Another easy way to stay one step ahead of fraudulent behavior is to avoid using public internet or wi-fi, where unscrupulous third-parties will seek to circumvent a location’s access to your device and hack into them in order to retrieve key data, such as passwords and account information.
You should therefore avoid using public access internet as much as possible, or if you choose to do so, best to use a VPN service to protect that potential avenue of attack.
Use Your Credit Card for Payments
This option may seem counterintuitive but it’s a solid way to protect yourself. When you make a payment via a service like Paypal it’s likely you will not be covered or recompensed if you are the subject of fraudulent activity.
However if you make a payment with your credit card then in most cases if the relevant banking organization can see this was done illegally, you’ll be covered and any funds would be returned to you. Also, your credit card may even prevent the transaction from taking place in the first place if they feel there is something not right with the relevant site/company.
If Something Doesn’t Look Right, Exit Immediately
Clearly many of us do our online shopping at instantly recognizable locations, like Amazon, eBay or AliExpress and for the most part it’s best to stick with brands and companies that are well-known or are online equivalents of main street shops we trust.
Sometimes though we may be attracted by a new player in the online shopping market but always be cautious about what’s being sold to you. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
Make sure the website is secure by looking for the padlock in the URL/address bar. Make sure the web address is prefaced with https, and not http, the ‘s’ in this instance stands for secure.
If your web browser warns you that a site isn’t safe, don’t ignore it, close immediately and never visit it again.
These are simple tips that should help keep you safe from most online shopping scams and attacks. Always be vigilant and never complete a purchase too readily, think long and hard, not just about the expense of the item, but also whether everything looks legit. Then, and only then, should you click buy.