10 Important Tips for Online Shoppers

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Who doesn’t love online shopping? It’s like Christmas and Santa Claus is at your door with everything that you need. If you’re looking to avoid shopping during the holiday season or if you just don’t want to be in an overcrowded mall, online shopping is the one best surefire way to have everything delivered at your doorstep. It provides convenience, savings, satisfaction and benefits to consumers and businesses as well. There are so many reasons to love online shopping, the best deals are there, the selection is mind boggling, shipping is easy and fast, you get to choose whatever you want and finally, you can do all of this from the privacy of your home. However, fraudsters are always on the lookout to fool people and sometimes it’s not very difficult for them to do that, since, so many people make foolish mistakes like giving too much information, falling for bad deals etc., while shopping. There are a lot of risks involved with online shopping like identity theft and credit card fraud, so, here is a list of few such novice mistakes you can avoid to browse and shop with ease. I aim to make you aware about the do’s and don’ts of online shopping, the whys and whats, so have a look-see.

10. Change your passwords

10. Change your passwords

This is quite obvious; change your passwords regularly, most probably every week if you can. Of course with different shopping websites email accounts, Facebook and twitter accounts, you have to remember a dozen passwords, that too with different letters and numbers. So the best way to be secure would be to either store them safely in your computer or make a note of them somewhere safe, where you can easily find them whenever you need to. Make sure your passwords are super strong and try to make them more unique with acronyms, symbols and alpha numeric. Always remember to log out of your account, especially if you’re using a public computer. Don’t put obvious user names and passwords especially the ones that are easy to guess, like you name or your birth date or your social security number. Hackers and fraudsters are very clever when it comes to identifying easy passwords. So be extra careful and Keep changing them regularly.

9. Fishy Looking websites

9. Fishy Looking websites

When it comes to online shopping, always trust your instincts, if you feel uncomfortable about a website or if you feel they’re snooping around too much, then always do what you think is right. If you don’t feel right about a particular website, leave it immediately and DO NOT provide them with any of your personal information. It’s always a good idea to get a little information about a business, before you begin shopping from a website, make sure to check it out on Google, if there’s anything fishy about it, you’ll know. If you come across a website that sells stuff at unbelievable prices, deals that seem too good to be true, then they most probably are. Most fake or spam websites have a few telling signs like poor web designs, multiple pop-up windows that you can’t close, free of cost benefits, depositing money without any receipt or authentication. If you come across any such signs, don’t go any further and close your browser.

8. Know Your Products

8. Know Your Products

Whenever you buy expensive products from a website, make sure to check if they’re legal or illegal, if the warranties and guaranties offered by the website are valid in your country, especially when it comes to gadgets or electronic items. Before you begin shopping, always make a list of things that you want to buy. I know how tempting online shopping can get, you just go on clicking and looking at new things and before you know, you’ve ordered more than what you need. Before you begin buying, check all the information about your product, the size, color, value, safety and cost. Goggle the product name, you’ll get all sorts of information, reviews and ratings about it, based on that, make your judgment. Just because a website seems to be selling something at a great deal, doesn’t mean that it is genuine or even real. A few clicks will save you time and money.

7. Website Policies

7. Website Policies

If you’re a beginner or an amateur online shopper, make sure to check the website’s privacy policies, their policies about guarantees and warranties, money back policies, product replacement policy and so on. Until and unless you’ve read all of this information thoroughly, do no proceed to make any purchases. Carefully read the terms and conditions about a certain product, refund and delivery policies and details. Only shop from websites whose privacy policy you’re comfortable with. If you feel that the website is asking too much information, especially if it doesn’t need half of that information to make a sale, then don’t use that website anymore. If the website doesn’t have proper, legal policies, then you shouldn’t do any further business with them. Check where all your data goes to and what kind of information the seller wants from you. If the website offers to share your information with a 3rd party, only proceed further if you’re comfortable or if you’re given a choice to opt out.

6. Search, search and search

6. Search, search and search

Before you begin shopping on a new website, search as much as you can about it on the internet. The internet is full of information about different websites, you can look for ratings and reviews, you can also find out if customers are comfortable with the website and if they’re had a pleasant shopping experience. Once time I remember, a website( I won’t name it, of course) seemed to be giving too good to be true bargains, when I checked about it on Google, a lot of people had complained that the website was selling old products and that instead of branded items, as they were claiming, they were selling cheap knockoffs. So, it’s always best to check it out on Google. There are a lot of complaint forums on the internet, where people leave comments about how much enjoyed or hated shopping on a particular website, how the products rate and a lot of good as well as bad reviews.

5. Always use a Credit card

5. Always use a Credit card

You’ve probably heard this a million times, but just to be sure, I’ll say this again, always choose credit over debit. Never, ever use an ATM card while shopping online, and if you must, always use a credit card instead of a debit card. This is because federal law protects credit card holders from fraud and theft. When you use a credit card, you have the right to dispute charges, if necessary and withhold payments during a creditor investigation. If you’re using a debit card and somehow, someone gains access to it, then they can clean out your bank account within seconds. You might get half of your money back, but the rest of it is probably never coming back to you. Again, if you’re using a credit card its best to go for disposable credit cards. They work just like gift cards and are a lot safer. Some credit card issuers will send an OTP (one time password) before you make a transaction, never, ever share it with anyone or send it to anyone, via text or mail.

4. Too much information

4. Too much information

There’s not a single online shopping website that necessarily needs your birth date or your social security number to make a sale or a transaction. IF a website seems to be asking for this, then steer clear of it. If a website asks for your social security number during the checkout process, then it is a scam site. You may think that giving out your birth date it quite innocent, but it is one of the many pieces of information required by spammers and fraudsters to dupe or fool you. If they can get their hands on all of this information about you, they can cause serious damages, even steal your identity. So, as much as possible, give the least amount of your information and check and cross-check before  giving personal and private details.

3. Secure websites

3. Secure websites

Whenever you make a purchase from a website, make sure that it has a SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. Make sure to check if the website has “https” instead of “http” in the address bar. If your browser tells you that a particular website isn’t secure, you should listen to your browser. A secure site begins with https:// and not http or an image of a padlock will appear at the bottom m of your browser window, to tell you whether the website’s secure or dangerous. This helps in keeping your credit card transaction safe from eavesdroppers’ and spammers. Always shop on familiar websites, ones that you know everything about, the ones about which you have all the information and the ones that customers on the internet praise or rave about. Don’t get make an assumption based on one review, instead search about it as much as you can.

2. Check your product

2. Check your product

So, once you’re aware about all the above points, it is time to check out and make the payment. Make sure to check the company’s shipping polices, refund, return and exchange policies. Always look out for hidden extra charges or any other club or deal the website might try to sign you up for. Sometimes websites charge a considerable amount of shipping charges. If the shipping fee is too high, then don’t purchase it. It would definitely be more beneficial to buy that product from the store instead of paying some a Hugh amount.BE a smart shopper, compare prices and see if the product’s price is higher than the store price. If it is, then the website’s obviously fooling you. Sometimes online prices aren’t the best deals. Once you get your product, see if it has arrived in good shape, if it is damaged or broken. If so, then immediately contact the website and demand a refund or a replacement. Make sure to keep the receipts, statements and copies of your correspondence handy.

1. Secure your computer

1. Secure your computer

Above all and most important of all, keep your computer safe and secure. Always check for updates, keep your internet connection secure and your browser updated. Never shop or make credit card transactions from a public computer, and if you do, make sure to log out and if possible, delete all your information from the browser and never click, keep me logged in. It’s always a good idea to shop from home. Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus software’s, anti-spyware software’s as well as firewall  to prevent any malware or virus corruption.

Shop smart and shop safe online! Happy Shopping!

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