The benefits of online shopping are nothing to brush under the rug, but making purchases electronically also carries risks. To get great deals and stay safe, keep these tactics at your fingertips.
Keep on Top of Security
As Mike Homnick of PCWorld points out, basic techniques such as keeping your browser updated and installing a top-notch malware protection application can reduce the odds that a cybercriminal is successful with an attack. Additionally, check that you see a padlock icon in the url bar as you shop or make your payment to vendors through third-party sites, such as Paypal. This icon, along with https:// rather than http:// preceding the website address, indicates that the website is secured with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. Online payment services also can provide more protection in that they often allow you to transfer funds without giving the retailer your credit or debit card information, all while protecting you with unauthorized transaction coverage and monitoring for suspicious activity. Using only secured network connections and sticking to only well-recognized retailer applications are additional tips. Finally, find and verify the phone number and physical address information for the company you’re considering buying from, as the National Cyber Security Alliance recommends. Legitimate businesses readily supply this data to prove they’re valid enterprises, as well as to facilitate good customer service.
Insist on the Minimum
Many great retailers ask you for a little more information, such as your email address, for niche marketing or customer service purposes. Some pieces of data, however, such as your Social Security Number, specific date of birth or driver’s license number, have no marketing or delivery value for a legitimate seller. If you can’t place your order by providing your name, address and credit card/third party payment option, be suspicious. The fewer fields you have to fill out, the better.
Be Willing to Compare and Research
The online market is incredibly competitive. If you buy from the first retailer you see, you might miss finding a better price from another seller, especially when you take into account that some websites offer incentives like cash back. Take the time to shop around, and don’t forget about options like Flipkart coupons, which can reduce your bill even if your primary seller isn’t offering a deal. As you compare vendors, read as many reviews as you can, not only about the product you’re interested in, but about the sellers themselves. Aim to use only retailers that have satisfaction rates of 99 or 100 percent during the process, and check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to be absolutely sure the good reputation you’re seeing is valid.
Documentation such as confirmation emails or transaction numbers can assist with refunds, exchanges or other problems. Terms and conditions, price pages and product descriptions also fall into this category.
Assume a Return
Although you hopefully won’t need to return what you order, never buy anything online unless you’re aware of the seller’s return/refund policy. Many vendors won’t take back products without receipts, return numbers or original packaging.
Online shopping can be a convenient way to get what you want or need, provided you take steps to protect yourself. Simple strategies greatly reduce the chances you’ll have a bad experience.
*Kim Simmons uses his retail experience to hunt out his own bargains online. He also likes to share his tips with others online and writes for a number of consumer and lifestyle websites.