Shopping online is fast, convenient and places at your disposal a wide range of products and services. Yet, just like shopping in a traditional market like Oshodi or Alaba international, you need to be smart. Before you make a payment for ANYTHING on the internet ensure that you see HTTPS an acronym for hypertext transfer protocol secure. If you don’t see https, it could be a scam, please DON’T give out your details on such a website. In this article we will explore safe ways to shop online.
Safe ways to shop online
To do online shopping, you are required to give out such information as your name, address, phone number, email address and credit card number, which is perhaps the most important piece of information you can hand over. This makes online shopping one of the top ways for someone to have their identity stolen. Identity theft is big business and the major risk in online shopping. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that about 9 million individuals have their identity stolen each year. It has topped the list of consumer complaints filed with the agency for the past 12 years running, accounting for about 15% of all complaints.
Stay calm! While somewhat alarming, these statistics should not keep you from shopping online. You simply need some common sense and practical advice. Here are a few way to be safer during online shopping.
USE TRUSTED WEBSITES
It is important that you do your online shopping on websites that have gained credibility over time rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, and it has developed a good reputation with customers, chances are it’s more credible and less likely to be a fraud.
Before you decide to make a purchase on any website be sure to apply some ‘street sense’. Do a background check on the website and read reviews and other people’s comments about the website.
BUY ON A SECURE WEBSITE
Never ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP ://). E.g. https://amazon.com not http://amazon.com . An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser.
Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. Never!
HOLD BACK SOME PERSONAL INFORMATION
It is common sense not to give out too much information about yourself online. No online shopping store needs the names of your children, your family history etc to do business with you.
However, if crooks get them, combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. Make an effort to hold back information that is not related to your purchase during online shopping.
PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER
Swindlers don’t just sit around waiting for you to give them data; sometimes they give you a little something to help get things moving. Just by downloading an item on the internet, swindlers can scan your computer for useful information about you. You need to protect against malware with regular updates to your anti-virus program. This is very important, don’t neglect your anti-virus. Update it regularly!
USE STRONG PASSWORDS
Every now and again, it is important to emphasis the need to utilize ‘uncrackable’ passwords. This is especially important during online shopping. Creating a unique password can come in handy when shopping around. Passwords that combine your date of birth, phone number etc are not the best. Try to include signs like *^%!@- and so on combined with a few characters but most importantly make sure you are able to remember it easily. The best place to store your password is in your head not on a sheet of paper.
Hopefully you already know that it’s a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases or do anything sensitive. If you have to use a ‘cyber cafe’, just remember to log out every time, even if you were just checking email.
What about using your own laptop to shop while you’re out? It’s one thing to hand over a credit card to get swiped at the POS terminal, but when you must enter the number and expiration date on a website while sitting in a ‘cyber café’, you’re giving ‘the boys’ plenty of time to steal your information . At the very least, sit at a location that doesn’t expose you to someone that might have debauched motives.
KNOW WHAT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many of these “offers” will come to you via social media. Beware even of your friends, who might innocently forward such a thing. Be very wary even if you get a message from a friend claiming he or she has found an amazing offer, unless you absolutely can confirm it by talking to him or her personally. Scepticism in most cases can go a long way toward saving you from being swindled.
Billions of dollars will be spent online over the course of this year, but unfortunately, there are those that will be looking to steal some from unsuspecting individuals.
Enjoy your online shopping, take note of the suggestions herein and make sure you’re not a victim of devious individuals.
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