Tips for Safe Online Shopping
When shoppers head online, they can find all sorts of amazing opportunities. Unfortunately, they may also encounter cybercriminals and scammers. If you head out to the stores in the real world, you probably take certain steps to protect yourself. When shopping online, you should do the same thing.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to sidestep trouble. In fact, there are often parallels between shopping wisely in the real world and shopping smart online. These tips for safe online shopping will help you avoid problems as you navigate the aisles of virtual stores.
Beware Bargains That Are Too Good
In the real world, a deal that’s too good probably has a catch. In the cyber world, if it’s too good to be true, it’s best to assume it’s dangerous. While there’s a chance that you have found a bargain, you may also have found a scam, cybercriminal, or malicious site. It’s generally better to take your business elsewhere.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
In the real world, you probably try to avoid dark alleys and other places where shady characters might be looking for victims. If you have to cross risky spaces, you travel with caution. For online shoppers, public Wi-Fi is like a poorly-lit parking lot at night.
As SafeWise points out, public Wi-Fi is vulnerable to hacking. If you enter passwords or credit card numbers while using one of these connections, you may be handing your information over to a stranger. Therefore, passing the time browsing the virtual aisles with friends at lunch can be fun, but don’t log in or make a purchase on the restaurant’s public Wi-Fi. Ideally, do your shopping at home or where you have a private connection. If you do choose to shop, just place items in the cart. Then, complete your purchase when you return to a trusted internet connection.
Choose Reputable Retailers
When you head to town, you probably have certain shops you prefer. As you head online, shopping with retailers that you know and trust provides a safety net. They may be merchants who already have a brick-and-mortar store in your community or major online retailers like Amazon. If you feel like you need to give a new store a try, do your homework. Read their policies carefully to be sure that you’re comfortable with them. Also, check reviews of the store online and with the Better Business Bureau.
Use Credit Instead of Debit
Shoppers are often urged to be mindful of their wallets. Think carefully about how you’ll pay for your purchases. After all, cybercriminals are happy to snag payment information when they can. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, a credit card is a better choice than a debit card. Credit cards offer more consumer protections than debit cards, so if something goes wrong, you’re safer.
You may also find favor with a third-party payment option like PayPal, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. These services let you pay without handing over your credit card information to the merchant.
Look for a Secure Site
Verifying that a website is secure is another way to help keep your personal and payment information safe when you’re shopping online. As Webroot indicates, it’s easy. Look at the web address to see if it begins with “https” or just “http.” The “s” tells you that the site is secure. It has the necessary encryption in place to protect your information. If it’s missing, you should look for another place to shop.
Heading online to do a little shopping can be a fantastic way to snag bargains and connect with retailers from around the globe to find exactly what you want. With a few clicks, you can have things delivered directly to your door. But when you’re buying things on the web, it’s critical that you pay attention and follow a few tips for safe online shopping.
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