Safety Tips for Online Shopping

Published Categorized as Guide

Is online shopping safe? Generally speaking, yes! Online shopping has become much safer in recent years with options for more secure payment gateways and fraud detection. According to recent statistics, there are currently 262 million online shoppers in the U.S. alone—which is roughly 80% of the population. The average American spends roughly $5,381 per person, per year on online shopping, with more than 55% of U.S. consumers saying that they prefer to shop online than in a store.

This surge in online shopping was largely driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. The desire for physical safety and the convenience of not having to venture out into the open acted as catalysts for more people to opt for the comfort of their own homes. However, this shift has been further propelled by recent rapid advancements in technology, including new mobile apps and a slew of delivery services, firmly establishing online shopping as the preferred mode for many.

Several other advantages of online shopping include:

  • Easier to find deals and discounts
  • Shopping in peace without being bothered by salespeople
  • Privacy for purchases on sensitive or discrete items
  • Easier to compare products across multiple stores or suppliers
  • Easier to send gifts to friends and family

Top 20 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

While online shopping is convenient, there is a drawback. Online shopping habits are often tracked or monitored. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to stay safe and anonymous. Check out our tips and stay vigilant while shopping this holiday season.

1. Stick to Trusted Retailers

Always make sure to research a website before making a purchase. Sticking to retailers that you’ve shopped with before is a great start. What if you’re shopping at an online store that’s new to you? Do some digging into their reputation through consumer reviews on Trustpilot, Yelp, and Google.

2. Check Site Security

Keep an eye out for SSL encryption on a retailer’s website. You can do that by checking if the website address starts with https (rather than http) and whether or not there’s a padlock icon to the left of the URL in the browser’s address bar.

3. Protect Your Personal Information

Be extra careful about what information you provide on a website. If in doubt, give out the absolute bare minimum information required to make a purchase. Be cautious of unusual requests via email or phone calls asking you to verify information about your account.

4. Stay Protected on Public Wi-Fi

Making purchases on public Wi-Fi networks without a VPN increases the chance of your traffic being intercepted. If you don’t have a VPN, avoid online shopping in places like hotels, airports, public hotspots, buses, and cafes.

5. Create Strong Passwords

When creating online accounts, ensure that you use strong and unique passwords in addition to two-factor authentication. Make it as hard as possible for someone to access your account.

6. Use Online Payment Services

Where available, use a secure payment gateway like PayPal, Stripe, or Venmo. Linking your credit card, rather than your debit card, to an online payment service also helps to provide an extra layer of defense to accessing your money.

7. Be Wary of Fraudulent Deals

If you find a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is. If a product is noticeably cheaper compared to other websites, there’s a high chance it’s a counterfeit.

8. Monitor Your Statements

By enabling automatic payment notifications on your online banking or payment services, you can be notified as soon as a payment is made—genuine or not.

9. Use a VPN

A VPN, or virtual private network, will route your online traffic through a secure tunnel. In addition to providing protection, downloading a VPN for online shopping can also potentially save you money.

10. Check If Retailers Accept Credit Cards

Credit cards are a reliable method for shopping online as they are backed by banks and financial institutions and are generally accepted by the vast majority of online retailers. It is one of the easiest payment methods to stop in the event of fraud.

11. Research Online Reviews

While there have been rising instances of fake reviews for online stores, it’s still recommended that you check out trusted review sites like Trustpilot.

12. Type the URL Directly into the Address Bar

If you receive emails for online deals, visit the websites for those particular retailers by typing their URLs directly into your browser’s address bar instead of clicking on the links in the emails.

13. Use a Dedicated Email Address

Creating a separate email address just for online shopping can reduce the risk of spam.

14. Exercise Caution When Shopping from Your Phone

Where possible, opt for a retailer’s official app rather than making purchases from mobile browsers.

15. Always Log Off After Online Shopping

Unless your device is exclusively used by you and you alone, take care to log out of all of your accounts once you’ve finished your online shopping.

16. Install an Antivirus or Anti-Malware Software

Protect yourself against potential security risks to your online shopping activities by installing antivirus programs on your devices.

17. Don’t Be Afraid to Complain

If what you’ve ordered doesn’t match the retailer’s description, is damaged, or doesn’t even arrive, don’t be afraid to complain.

18. Use a Virtual Credit Card

Virtual, or temporary, credit or debit cards are a great way to add an extra layer of security to your online transactions.

19. Research Physical Addresses and Phone Numbers

Where possible, look for whether or not a business has verifiable addresses or phone numbers listed on its websites.

20. Read the Terms and Conditions

Always remember to read the terms and conditions for anything that you buy online.

Risks of Online Shopping

In addition to the possibility of being tracked or monitored, online shopping also carries several risks that can catch unsuspecting shoppers. Identity theft is perhaps one of the most common issues with unsecure sites allowing for the interception and theft of your personal details.

Identity Theft

This can involve anything from hackers stealing customer personal and payment information, to phishing emails designed to obtain your personal information.

Stolen Data

If an online store is breached, personal and financial information for every customer could be compromised and sold online.

Fake Apps

Take care to ensure that you use official apps developed by online retailers.

Safest Shopping Websites

The safest shopping websites are those that are well-known and have been in business for many years. They have established themselves as trusted online retailers with a track record of providing quality products and reliable service.

Fake Shopping Sites to Avoid

There are currently hundreds of thousands of fake shopping sites online, disguising themselves as legitimate retailers to steal both your money and personal information.

How to Tell If an Online Shopping Site Is Legit

While a fake or scam website can be set up to look as legit as possible, most will not take the time and effort to mind all the details. Fraudsters are looking for easy money, after all. Overall, if a site purports to be a well-known brand but does not look professionally set up, go with your gut and avoid it.

Internet vpn iphone

There is a necessity to utilize a consistent VPN company as ForestVPN in order to secure your iPhone while shopping on the Internet. While using ForestVPN, all your online traffic is encrypted which protects your personal information against any potential hacker or cyber criminals. Moreover, it changes your IP address and gives you no name and also prevents the tracking of your internet activities. If you have bought an item knowing that you are protected by ForestVPN then the data cannot be corrupted.

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Categorized as Guide