A lot of people these days no longer resort to the traditional ways of buying stuff — that is, by going into department stores and malls — because almost everyone has bought into the idea of online shopping.
Many embrace the convenience of online shopping. However, there are also a lot of people who are still skeptical about it because they aren’t assured of the safety of these online transactions. There have been numerous reports of fraud transactions in the past years, including cases of identity theft, which give online shopping a bad name. Safety is always a must, particularly when there is money involved, so here are a few tips to help you shop online safely.
1. Shop at trusted sites
Most of the reported cases of fraud and identity theft occurred when transactions were done via social media or obscure shopping sites. This is why you should do your online shopping at popular and trusted sites such as eBay and Amazon. Once you get the feel of things on these sites, then you can branch out to other trusted retail stores that you can take advantage of later on. These websites are not just popular for no reason — they are authentic and can be trusted by customers. The testimonials on their sites and feedback from fellow customers further testifies to their legitimacy.
2. Make sure the website has the SSL encrypted
The SSL (secure sockets layer) is a tool that gives you a sense of privacy when it comes to information that you give out within a website. You can tell that a website has the SSL encryption if the URL starts with an HTTPS:// instead of the usual HTTP://. There will also be a padlock icon seen right beside the URL in the address bar or at the bottom in the status bar depending on the type of browser that you are using.
3. Be discreet
It is understandable that retailers and merchants will ask for some personal information for your transaction, but this info should only be limited to name, address, contact number, age, and credit card number (depending on the mode of payment). You should not give out other personal details that will be useless for the transaction because this can give other people a chance to steal your identity.
4. Protect your computer
Make sure you install antivirus programs that will protect you from viruses, Malware, and Spyware programs that can access information from your computer and invade your computer or device. Some thieves are high tech enough to take advantage of this method in order to steal information from users and use it against them.
5. Check your account statement
Check your account balance right after the online transaction so that you are assured that the money that you paid for your purchase was the only amount taken off your account. If you are paying via credit card, then you can call your credit card company and ask for your latest transaction, including the amount you owe them for that transaction. This is to make sure that the merchant charged you correctly and that there are no other suspicious transactions on your account.
As long as you practice the above safety tips, you can be assured that you will not be victimized by cases of fraud and identity theft. Most of the time, the victims are the ones who are careless and do not observe proper decorum when transacting online.
However, be wary that online shopping can be addictive, that is why you need to control yourself as you become comfortable with shopping on this platform. Keep in mind that you can purchase things online at anytime of the day and anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. Your finances will greatly suffer once you lose control of your buying habits — even if your personal information and accounts are kept secure by these safety tips.