Over the last few decades, the ease and accessibility of online shopping have changed the way consumers make purchases. What used to be a day at the mall is now 15 minutes on your mobile phone. But these conveniences don’t come without their own risks and challenges.
The chances of fraudulent purchases and identity theft increase significantly with online purchases as products are shipped worldwide from an eCommerce fulfillment service or directly from the manufacturer.
Not all eCommerce merchants have the high security standards many consumers would assume they do. So, it’s up to you to do your research and ensure your information and financial investments are as secure as possible. Here are six tips for a safe and secure online shopping experience:
1. Check Shipping Terms And Fees
Some eCommerce stores will charge an exorbitant fee to ship products that initially seemed like a bargain. Be on the lookout for nearly unbelievable sales that charge unreasonably high shipping prices.
If the merchant uses a reliable eCommerce fulfillment service, this shouldn’t be the case. So, always check customer reviews and fulfillment information before checking out.
2. Don’t Shop On An Unsecure Connection
If you frequent the local coffee shop or library for your internet connection, the risks of a security breach are much higher. If you must use those connections to do your shopping, ensure your computer and your sensitive data are properly protected with antivirus and identity theft security software.
3. Set Unique Passwords For Online Accounts
Gone are the days of having only two online accounts with the same password. Now, nearly every online retailer offers or requires an individual account to be set up in order to shop. While this makes it convenient for future shopping and taking advantage of promotions, it can present a challenge with password diversity.
Use an automatic password generator such as those offered by Google Chrome or Last Pass to help generate more secure passwords. These tools also help you store and remember the many passwords you need for sites you visit on a regular basis.
4. Don’t Pay With Debit Cards
With the growth of payment platforms such as PayPal, LaterPay, Venmo, and Cash App, there’s no need to upload credit card numbers and security codes to every website you use. With PayPal, you can log in to that account, and the charge will be processed securely without having to share card info.
PayPal also offers monthly statements to help with tracking and refund assistance in the event a merchant turns out to be fraudulent or unreliable.
5. Only Shop With Encrypted Websites
The small padlock image at the far left end of the browser bar indicates the security of the website. The browser should also clearly indicate when a site is not secure. If that’s the case, do not complete the checkout process.
6. If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is
Merchants and marketers work hard to recruit new customers, so not all great deals are fraudulent. However, there are many that seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, this means they probably are.
Take care to only shop with credible and vetted vendors and merchants. Look for customer reviews and take a look at the brand’s social media presence. What is the theme of the feedback from past clients? Check for responses provided by the business. How were negative reviews handled?
Anyone with a credit card can set up a website and a product page fairly easily, but this doesn’t mean they’re a reliable merchant. Follow the steps above to ensure you’re shopping safely.
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