Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular as the digital world changes the way we do everything. Not that long ago, many of us were terrified at the thought of handing over our personal details and submitting important financial data like our credit card to some website that we knew little about. Fast forward and online shopping is becoming a huge industry and is predicted to accelerate in growth over the coming decade.However, online shopping still provides a number of challenges and the consequences of these can be quite significant.
I’ve put together a list of my best tips for how to safely shop online in this modern age below. I hope they’ll help keep your money safe and make your online experience a good one!
Tips for shopping online safely
- First and foremost, trust your instincts! Only shop at online stores that you feel comfortable with. If something feels fishy, it probably is so steer clear.
- Use familiar websites – you can be safe in the knowledge that sites like Amazon or Target will be using best practises and treating your information safely;
- Buy from shops that have an SSL certificate. The easiest way to check this is to see if a site has https on its checkout page. This will also be accompanied by an icon with a locked padlock. You can be sure than these sites have encryption installed.
- Use secure payment methods like PayPal, BPay or your credit card. Avoid any site asking you to make a direct debit or money transfer as their is no recourse to refund your money if something goes wrong;
- Don’t give too much away – if a site is asking for too much detail about you, this is a sign that something is wrong. If information like your birthdate or social security number provided with your credit card details then your identity could actually be stolen.
- Check the refund, return and exchanges policy and only shop at stores which allow you to change your mind if you don’t like the item. Shopping online means you don’t physically get to see the item until it arrives at your house so you want the opportunity to exchange or refund if it’s not quite right.
- If you order from a computer that is available for others to use (ie library or work etc) then make sure you clear the cache and browsing history before you log off.
- Check the seller has a physical address. If it is a purely online business with no listed address then a red flag should fly high and you should avoid this retailer.