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Helpful Tips on Protecting your Information when Shopping Online

Helpful Tips on Protecting your Information when Shopping Online

Millions of people use online shopping sites on a daily basis in the United States. The e-commerce economy is constantly growing and it is expected to continue growing over the next decade. Also, the online marketplace and shopping are becoming more commonplace as businesses are adapting their marketing strategy to accommodate more online sales.

Online shopping is pretty cool, easy, convenient, and has a lot of features like allowing consumers to check product reviews, compare prices, find coupons etc.

However, just as there are lots of advantages in shopping online, there are also disadvantages; this is the reason online shoppers and consumers worry constantly about the security and safety of the information they share when shopping online.

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Some of the most common consumer concerns about online shopping include:

  1. Identity theft
  2. Online data storage, such as cookies
  3. The security of information and the possibility of releasing sensitive information such as a home address
  4. Shipping costs
  5. Data breaches
  6. Price inconsistencies
  7. Important packages getting lost
  8. No return time
  9. Returns not being accepted

    Here are some helpful tips to help you be more careful and vigilant while shopping online in order to avoid rip-offs and online shopping scams.

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    Shop with reputable and familiar websites

    Many of the online shopping issues listed above can be solved if you stick with the well-known/reputable brands and websites with return and shipping policies you can review before checking out your purchases. Also, you should be wary of sharing your credit card information on untrusted shopping sites to avoid having your information recorded and used to rip you off.  To protect your credit card information, you should use a secure payment system or third-party payment system like PayPal, as they conceal your credit card information from retailers.

    Use a virtual private network

    To avoid your information being stored in your web browser or on websites and accessible to hackers, you should start using a virtual private network, popularly known as VPN on both your computer and your mobiles. A VPN provides Internet security and encryption, allowing you to shop online and share sensitive information securely without compromise. It encrypts and secures your information from untrusted sites and hackers.

    Only shop on personal computers and secure sites

    Do not ever shop online or make any purchase using a public computer. This is very unsafe and you should never make that mistake. Always shop with your personal computer and ensure that the sites where you enter sensitive personal information are secure. You can know this by identifying the URL; if the URL starts with “https://” it is most likely safe.

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    Use strong passwords and protect your personal information

    Protect your online accounts and information with strong passwords. Avoid passwords that consist of your birthday, 12345 or other predictable types. For your accounts, you should use different and random passwords that you can remember and people can’t guess.

      Be wary of online shopping sites that request your social security number or your mother’s maiden name; they could be phishing sites set up by hackers to steal your information. The information required for an online purchase is usually basic stuff like your name, billing address, mailing address, and credit card information. Sometimes, phone number and email address are also needed.

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      More online shopping security tips

      Of all concerns connected with online shopping, security is the most important. Packages getting lost in transit can be frustrating but cannot compare to the problem of having your identity stolen. So, in addition to the above mentioned, here are some more tips to ensure safe online shopping:

      1. Beware of sites using pop-up ads.
      2. Check out for “https” in the URL and a padlock or broken key icon, which is an indication that your information is secure.
      3. The website should clearly state its return policy and shipping costs.
      4. Use reputable retailer sites and apps.
      5. The company should have an actual address and phone number.
      6. Prices should not be too high and not too good to be true. It should be reasonable.
      7. You should be able to use a credit card with fraud protection.

      Happy and safe shopping!

      Featured photo credit: Avvo Stories via stories.avvo.com

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      Kyra Taylor

      Writer and Lawyer

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      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      More About Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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