10 Tips for Shopping Online Safely
Shopping online is an awesome way to get some last minute gifts, conveniently buy your next wardrobe, and you can even shop for your groceries. The internet is now a busy bee’s paradise…as well as those hermits. But what are the ramifications of having your personal information so easily accessible for online identity theft? Has technology caught up with the influx of online shopping in order to keep consumers safe? Maybe, maybe not. There are a lot of factors that can go into consideration in determining whether or not your personal information is safe or even whether or not your money is being well spent.
Take a look at these tips to help you take some extra precautions when going on your next virtual shopping spree!
- Make sure you are shopping from a secure connection. If your computer isn’t protected, neither is your financial information! Make sure you have your firewall on when you are shopping and checking out. If you are shopping on a wireless network, make sure it is encrypted.
- Before you do anything, make sure you trust the merchant. If you already trust the store, then shopping their online store is more than likely safe. If you are shopping online at a store you’ve never purchased at before, then make sure you do your research. Checking out customer reviews is a great place to start.
- Apply a coupon code! One of the downsides of shopping online is paying for the shipping costs. Save some money by applying coupon codes exclusive to online buyers or even meet the minimum purchase requirements to score free shipping!
- If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is. If an online store is offering a deal for a product at way too low a price, beware. Oftentimes an online store will offer a cheap substitute, damaged goods, sell items they obtained illegally, or simply never plan on actually giving you the item. Do your research on the merchant and keep an eye out for unreasonable offers.
- Review the terms before buying an online gift card. Especially if you are buying this gift card as an actual gift for someone, make sure you are getting them a gift card for a reputable website, make sure they actually shop at the store, and they don’t have to jump through any hoops to use their gift!
- Beware if the online store is asking too many questions. Apart from the necessary information required to make a purchase, any additional information requested should be optional. They shouldn’t be asking for information such as your bank information, your social security number or your driver’s license number. Some online stores may ask about your interests to better serve you, but those questions should always be optional!
- Make your password unique! Sometimes you may be required to create an account with the online store you are shopping at. Usually you can opt to not do this and shop as a “guest” but if it is necessary, do not use a password that already exists for you! It is imperative that you create a unique password for your accounts.
- Get a PayPal account. A great way to save yourself the risk of identity theft is to pay through PayPal whenever it is available. That takes the question out of the validity of the merchant, as you are paying through an already notably secure site.