Shopping online or by television has grown increasingly popular throughout the years, mainly due to convenience. Buyers can often obtain substantial deals without having to leave home. As added bonuses, products generally arrive quickly and can be delivered directly to the doorstep. But, before you throw down your credit cards and commit to buying anything, consider these factors:
- Make sure you are buying from a reputable business and opt for trusted websites.
- Always use strong passwords that are changed frequently.
- Check bank and credit card statements regularly.
- When shopping online, beware of misspellings that can take you to the wrong websites.
- Also beware of unofficial domain names designed to trick buyers (for example .net rather than .com).
- Use websites with an SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. URLs generally start with HTTPS rather than HTTP.
- Never give out your birthdate or SSN (social security number). Once a scammer obtains this information; they can do some damage such as stealing identities.
- Make sure your computer is updated with the latest antivirus programs and security.
- Only use private wi-fi to make purchases. For example, avoid using public wi-fi at an airport or café to make a purchase.
- Make purchases through safe apps.
- Make sure your computer privacy settings are turned on.
- Whenever possible, use two-factor authentication, also called 2FA. This means that a user is allowed access to a website or application after showing two pieces of authentication. This makes it more difficult for others to access your accounts.
- Pay attention to details of the purchase. Understand payment conditions (for example easy-pay vs. one-time payment), international pricing fees, return policies, and more. Note that auto delivery might get you a discount, but it means that you are automatically signing up for future pre-scheduled purchases and deliveries.
- If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is likely a scam.
- Never buy products through emails and use extreme caution doing business on social media.
- Pay with credit and not with a debit card.
- Track your products to make sure it is headed your way.
- Have your products delivered to a secure location so that your packages are not stolen.
- Consider the economy and your financial status to avoid impulse buying or regret.
- Promptly report scams.
Online shopping is a pleasurable experience of convenience, but it is not without risks. Knowing how to stay safe online, understanding the details of the purchase, and being sensible about money, together work to benefit buyers and ensure positive outcomes. Remember that while it’s fun to shop online, being mindful about spending can reduce the chances of living beyond one’s means during a difficult economic period. Happy shopping!
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