Ray Wisoky / 2021-10-03 07:41:57 / 0 Comments

Shopping Online? Follow These 11 Tips for a Safer Experience

Shopping online is a simple and efficient way to get what you want when you need it. It can take the hassle out of going to the store and ensure that you always have the items you need. Whether it’s a top-selling bestseller, a video game for your child, or something more personal and sentimental—you can find them all online in seconds.

Online transactions, whether they be for goods or services, does not always go smoothly. The FBI has received increasing complaints from consumers who did not receive their purchased items. Many were fooled by the low prices of products advertised on social media or search engine shopping pages. Namely, they either could not find anything or they got random items like a box of disposable facemasks that could only be returned for an expensive shipping charge.

Scammers can ruin online shopping for everyone, but there are plenty of ways to avoid them. Check out our tips so you can avoid becoming one of their victims:

1. Never shop when you’re on public Wi-Fi

Avoid using public Wi-Fi to shop next time you’re out somewhere drinking coffee. Your online activity may be being monitored by someone right now.

Online shopping can come with risks, like having your information stolen. That means giving out your name, address and credit card number, which is something an identify thief would surely love to get.

2. A trusted VPN can protect your connection

We all know how risky using public Wi-Fi can be. Unless you want people to hack your phone, the only way is to use a VPN. When you're on public Wi-Fi, use a VPN (virtual private network) with encryption to prevent hackers from stealing your data. Prying eyes won’t see what you're doing or be able to keep tabs on your personal data.

Use a trusted VPN for online shopping

3. Choose a retailer with plenty of good reviews

It's important to shop exclusively with websites you already know and trust. Get to your favorites quickly by bookmarking them. This way, you can have a safe experience when going to websites with known ratings and reviews.

Typos in a shopping site URL could lead to a copycat website that looks just like the original one. Websites put appearance before honesty and they don't care if you're caught out by a scam or not.

4. Don’t just fall for those too-good-to-be-true deals

Just saw an ad on Facebook or Instagram offering rock-bottom prices? An offer that seems too good to be true is probably not true at all. According to the FBI, most complaints are being advertised on popular social media platforms.

Before you buy anything, compare prices. Sometimes the best way to find lower prices is just by shopping around. If you wind up on a site that seems suspicious or doesn’t have any contact information, look at other sites before making your purchase.

5. Use passwords that are hard to guess

When you set up to protect your online accounts, it's important to use strong passwords. Like a lock on your physical house, the more secure the password protection is, the less likely criminals will break in and take what you have.

A strong password should have the following:

  • Combination of lower and uppercase letters
  • Numbers
  • Symbols

If you're not great with passwords, consider something longer that you'll find easy to remember and don't think others will guess (like a quote or lyric). One of the most effective ways to guard against identity theft is to refrain from using words that a thief could easily find or guess, such as your kid’s birthdate, your dog’s name or your favorite football team.

Use a complex password

We all know the rule: never reuse passwords. But it's become way too easy to accidentally reuse a password these days. The next time that happens, your other accounts may also be compromised in the process when this one company gets hacked.

6. Don’t open email attachments or links

These could be scams so it’s best to avoid these. If you needed any help or advice with this, please contact your retailer’s official customer service team. If you're having problems identifying suspicious messages from unfamiliar senders, we recommend using a junk mail filter. Also, be really careful when using your phone or computer because they could get infected with dangerous viruses and other malware if you open attachments or click on links in suspicious messages.

7. Look for the padlock icon on your web browser’s address bar

The lock icon is the symbol of a website using SSL encryption. You can further verify this with a URL starting with "https" instead of just "http".

Shopping on a secure website means your personal information is more protected from being stolen.

8. Use a virtual credit card if possible

A virtual credit card from your credit card issuer can offer a higher level of security against online thieves. The issuer may give you a temporary number that is linked to your account and can be used for day-to-day spending.

You can use a temporary credit card number to shop online, saving your genuine credit card details. If the thief has managed to get their hands on this specific number, they would be unable to use it.

Use virtual credit cards

9. Monitor the items you purchased

Keep up with what you buy online by following any new updates on your order. If the merchant refuses to provide shipping info or doesn’t respond to your requests for the status of your order, get in touch with your credit card issuer. It’s possible that they may have a policy that will help you with a chargeback.

10. File a complaint!

Did you think you got scammed? If so, it's worth contacting the authorities. If you think that you may be a victim of identity theft, then the FTC Identity Theft Recovery Plan is something worth considering.

11. Never send your personal details

If a site requests your SSN number, leave immediately. Never give personal info like this to shopping sites. Even when you’re ordering from a reputable seller, only send them as little personal information as possible.

And there you have it. With these online shopping safety tips, you may be able to avoid becoming a victim of scams and save yourself from financial or emotional hassle.