Shopping is a lot easier now, thanks to the vendors who took and are taking selling to a whole new level by providing online stores for potential buyers. Once you have a device with internet access, you can secure desired products stocked anywhere right from the comfort of your home.
Personally, I love shopping online because it’s easier to locate the perfect product, alternatives and price comparisons. It even gets better because you can save a lot of money and prevent unnecessary stress. Anyone who buys online will agree with me that it is fun until buyer’s safety comes into the picture.
You may have wondered if it’s possible to shop from the internet without having an inch of doubt concerning delivery, personal and financial safety. What ever it is that you want to buy online, doing so safely has become a challenge. This issue is largely due to the proliferation of internet fraud, identity theft, and more.
If you have seen a beautiful item in an online shop you’d like to own, totally hit the buy button, but not without reading this post.
How To Shop Safely Online
As e-commerce sites grow, so do happy scammers. Sadly, there are tons of emotionless individuals tirelessly on the lookout for potential buyers to trick into paying for non-existent products. Rather than get the supposed product, unsuspecting victims will not only lose cash but feed the scammers their financial and personal information.
The question now is;
Amid this scare, how does one shop online without fear of losing money and giving out vital information?
Here is how!
Having been an online shopper who made mistakes she learned from, I will share the few measures I utilise to stay safe when buying from stores on the internet.
Whilst I may have assured you of shopping fearlessly online, please play a role in making sure you shop securely.
13 Tips That Will Help You Shop Safely Online
Below are some of the best methods you can adapt to and ensure you’re shopping safely online;
Create A New Email For Registrations
Although this may not be a safety measure, it’s ideal. I suggest you create a new email account to avoid crowding your personal email with newsletters, coupons and information. If not for anything but your sanity.
Use Strong And Different Passwords
You know the deal. Using a strong password during registration places you one step ahead of unsolicited sign in attempts. For your safety, doo not use similar passwords for every platform you join. Also, avoid shairing your passwords with your email accounts. Fraudsters can easily access your email account if you signed up with their websites and share passwords with your email accounts.
Start Out With Reputable Stores
Patronising a reputable and trusted store is one of the easiest ways of being safe while buying online. Generally, a trusted shop has stood the test of time with little or no complaints from buyers. You’d come across reviews or posts about such stores in forums, social media sites, blogs and review platforms. It’s easy to find reputable sites as you will notice that they top the list of most used shops on the internet.
Note: Fraudsters often clone reputable websites by either replacing a word or the domain extension. Below are significant instances.
- Instead of amazon.com you might see it’s amaz0n.com. Notice the ‘o’ is replaced with ‘0’
- Rather than aliexpress.com you might discover it’s aliexpress.net (some stores use different domains, you can research to know all their extensions).
- Sometimes you may see a subdomain instead of a domain; jumia.blabla.com instead of jumia.com.
An easy step to ensure you’re visiting the genuine site is to input the store name on Google search and hit enter. The search results will always display the real URL. Phishing sites never outrank the original.
Read Buyer Reviews
While patronising popular shops might be one way of staying safe, it’s imperative to note that every e-commerce site comes with drawbacks. Understand that popularity is not a criterion for developing trust. In fact, some shops might be well-known for fraud, poor customer service and even low-quality products. If your choice to buy from a shop is driven by popularity, ensure it’s widely known for a good reason.
Reading customer reviews is in fact the best way to know if a store is genuine or not worth a transaction. It is super easy to know a good e-commerce site since internet shoppers share their experiences with others. To get user reviews, try searching for terms like ‘amazon reviews, is aliexpress safe?’ etc. I wouldn’t trust reviews found in a store’s social media pages since they can control what stays visible and not.
Be Smart With unfamiliar Shops
Although it’s better you use a shop you are familiar with, there are tons of new stores that offer valuable products and have the interest of sellers at heart. In case you are skeptical about the authenticity of an online shop, do simple background checks.
- Find the store physical location.
- Check out their social media platforms and read what others are saying about them.
- Purchase on only encrypted sites (domain should be mapped with https instead of http).
- Use a virtual or disposable card
- Opt for pay on delivery option if it is available.
- Know the face of the founder.
Beware Of Coupon Redirects
Settling for a few discounts while shopping is not much of a bad idea. It’s only normal to search for store coupons which can either help you save a few bucks or enable you buy more for less. There are a lot of websites created solely for publishing coupons.
While it’s okay to use coupons, I advise that you avoid clicking on links that take you directly to your point of purchase especially if you are not logged in. Scammers can easily steal your information in this manner. If you must click on a discount link, kindly register and login to the target shop first before taking any step.
Once a discount link redirects you to a login or payment page, understand that no coupon is worth your private information and financial safety. Close the tab and move on unless you can verify that you’re truly in the right store. You may have been redirected to a phishing site by a fraudster! To defraud and steal information, scammers often redirect victims to a phishing site that’s often very similar to the real site.
Not all discount links are unsafe. I will advise that you only click on the links posted by trusted coupon websites, bloggers and review sites. Be wary of links in forums, social media platforms and user generated discounts sites as there are a lot of users looking for victims to defraud.
Read Store Policies
Most people who shop online barely read the privacy, shipping and return policies of shops they buy from. A lot of us are guilty of this nonchalant mistake. Ensure you read the policies outlined in a shop so you don’t fall victim of your own ignorance.
Beware Of Too Good To Be True Discount Ads
These days, there have been a purge in ads promising free products to individuals willing to pay the shipping fees. If an offer is too good to true, then it definitely is!
You may have come across ads on Facebook or Instagram by stores offering 100% free products. The only condition is that you pay the shipping fee. Be careful of such sites as your financial safety might be at risk. If you must try this offer, then do so with a disposable credit/debit card or virtual card.
Be Smart With Public Devices
If you are using a shared device, avoid saving your login details for future use. To be on a safe side, after you’ve logged out, clear browser cookies and history. This step is taken to prevent anyone from gaining access to your account and shopping on your behalf.
Marketplace Safety; Read Reviews About Sellers
There are a lot of e-marketplaces with thousands of sellers to buy from. I’m pretty sure you know what a marketplace is. Online, vendors register with multi sellers platforms to sell their products. Amazon, Aliexpress, eBay, Jumia and Etsy are examples of online marketplaces.
Whenever you visit a marketplace to purchase anything, ensure you are doing so safely. The first thing to do is to check the seller’s reputation and reviews. Beware of fake user reviews. Most genuine buyers upload pictures of the items they’ve purchased.
Marketplace Safety; Use Escrow Service
Use the escrow service provided by the marketplace. Some sellers might suggest you make payment directly to them. Don’t fall for this even though he/she might be genuine. It’s better safe than sorry!
Buy From Sites that Deliver To Your Location
If you plan on buying from a foreign store, find the nearest post office or opt in for a shipping method that’s perfect for your location. Don’t pay for goods without finding out if they can be delivered to your location.
DON’T BE GREEDY
This is simple. Do not expect too much or get greedy. Remember that if an offer is too good to be, then it probably is.