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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 November 9, 2020

      10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

      10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

      Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

      Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

      Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

      If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

      Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

      1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

      Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

      Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

      Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

      2. No Motivation

      Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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      This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

      If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

      3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

      Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

      A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

      A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

      The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

      4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

      One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

      We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

      Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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      You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

      5. Upward Comparisons

      Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

      The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

      These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

      Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

      6. No Alternative

      This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

      Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

      Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

      Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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      7. Stress

      As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

      When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

      We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

      If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

      8. Sense of Failure

      People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

      Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

      Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

      If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

      9. The Need to Be All-New

      People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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      These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

      10. Force of Habit

      Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

      Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

      These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

      Final Thoughts

      These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

      There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

      More on Breaking Bad Habits

      Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
      [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
      [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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