These days we take safe online shopping for granted. But it wasn’t long ago that online shopping was like the wild wild west. Even today, in India, most online shopping payments are C.O.D.! This has to do, in part, with a lack of trust between consumers and vendors.
Thankfully, in America consumer protections are stronger, making online shopping considerably safer. Nonetheless, many dangers exist for being defrauded when shopping online. These 10 Safety Tips will teach you how to never be a victim of online shopping fraud!
Safe Online Shopping Tip #1 – Know Who You’re Dealing With
There are a variety of resellers in the eCommerce sphere. Some, like Amazon.com, are the gold standard in safe online shopping. Others could be fly-by-night operations trying to siphon your credit card data. The less reputable the site, the more you need to investigate its bonna fides. If it doesn’t feel right, go somewhere else. The low cost of switching shops is one of the best things about online shopping – it’s not like you have to drive across town during rush hour!
Safe Online Shopping Tip #2 – Pay by Credit Card
If you pay by cash transfer, check, or some other wiring method, you are out of luck in the event the goods you purchased are fraudulent. On the other hand, if you pay by credit card, you are generally limited to being liable for only the first $50 of the loss. Some credit cards even protect you against the entire loss with fraud protection!
Safe Online Shopping Tip #3 – Protect Your Credit Card
While you are frequently protected from loss by using your credit card online, having your credit card stolen is still at total pain. It could also put your account information at risk. Best to avoid it at any cost. Check out our 10 Safety Tips for Safe Internet Use to learn the basics of staying safe online.
Safe Online Shopping Tip #4 – Make Sure the Website uses Encryption
When data is transferred between a website and your computer, it is usually unprotected. Any snooper could grab it and use it. This includes your credit card information. When shopping online, be sure that you only transmit your information to sites that encrypt your data. This essentially means they use a code language. If anyone nabs your information they still can’t understand what it means.
To figure out whether the connection is secure, look for a “lock” symbol in the address bar of your web browser.
Safe Online Shopping Tip #5 – Don’t Shop in Public Over Wi-Fi
A public wi-fi connection sends signals over public bandwidth. Similarly, anyone can suck that information up – even if the connection between you and the website is encrypted! You online security is only as strong as the weakest link. Only transmit your credit card data when directly plugged in to the internet, or when you are at home on a private, password-protected wi-fi connection. Bob Rankin has some additional tips on safe online shopping over wi-fi.
A virtual private network, or VPN can help keep you safe online as well! PRIVATE WiFi contains all you need to know to keep up to date with issues related to identity theft, online privacy, and general privacy news.
Safe Online Shopping Tip #6 – Use a Virtual Credit Card Number
Many credit card companies allow you to generate a one-time-use virtual credit card number. You’re probably wondering, what is a virtual credit card number? It is a number tied to your credit card account, but can only be used once, for the current transaction. So even if someone steals that number, it won’t do them any good, because it will have expired. This gives you one less thing to worry about.
Safe Online Shopping Tip #7 – Consider Alternate Payment Forms
For certain types of transactions, alternate forms of payment are the best bet. When you can’t use a credit card, get creative. Consider using a safe online alternative like PayPal, instead of sending cash or a check. Its escrow-like services help protect the buyer and the seller. It’s not too difficult to use, although remembering another password can be a pain.
Safe Online Shopping Tip #8 – Beware of Deals That are too Good to be True
One reason to purchase only from reputable dealers is to avoid having you personal information stolen. Another reason is to avoid buying counterfeit goods. You may have kept your credit card safe, but you just spent too much money on a crummy knock off! How’s that for safe online shopping?
Safe Online Shopping Tip #9 – Look for Indicators of Trust
It’s not always possible to buy from merchants that you are familiar with. Sometimes the deal will just be too good to pass up. Other times, there may be only one retailer available. If you’re shopping at an unknown retailer, look for the Better Business Bureau logo or a TrustE logo. These represent that retailer meets high standards for safeguarding privacy. However, some unscrupulous retailers will display these logos even if they haven’t complied. So always trust your gut.
Safe Online Shopping Tip #10 – Read Independent Reviews
Word of mouth is always the best way of finding out what a retailer is really about. While many sites host reviews on their sites, in some cases these reviews could be biased or even fake. Whenever you doubt the trustworthiness of a site, be sure to look at independent review sites like Yelp, Epinions, or Bizrate.