Shopping online is a wonderful thing. You can sit in total comfort, curled upon your sofa, cup of coffee in hand, roaring fire, and you can shop to your heart’s content. You don’t even have to carry the shopping bags, as a very nice delivery driver does all of that for you a few days later.
What a wonderful invention!
Of course, there is a downside to everything positive in life, and in this case it is the pitfalls that can occur when you aren’t sure how to shop online safely and securely. There are many unscrupulous folk out there, who are keen to take the money of innocent shoppers. It’s up to you to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge to ensure your online safety.
Luckily, it’s not really that difficult to ensure that your online shopping experience is a positive one, and there are just a few rules to remember.
Check out the site’s reputation
Stick to sites that you’ve heard about in a positive light, e.g. big named brands, sites you’ve seen advertised on TV or in magazines, and ones your friends use regularly. Lesser known sites are often low in reputation for a good reason.
Use a Credit Card or PayPal
Credit cards offer extra protection in case of fraud, so whenever possible use your Visa or MasterCard credit card. In addition, rather than sending money directly, e.g. to a person for a private sale, always use a site like PayPal, which acts as a third party and sends the money much more safely.
Check the payment link is secure
On the check out screen, before you enter any details, check the link is secure. You can do this by looking at the address bar and you should see a padlock image, and the beginning of the address should be ‘https:’. These are both signs that the site is secure and you can go ahead and enter your details. If you don’t see these two signs, don’t proceed. In addition, if you are transferred to a third party site to complete payment, e.g. PayPal or World Pay, check for these two signs again.
Use a firewall and online protection
As a baseline minimum when surfing the Internet, regardless of whether you’re shopping or not, you should have a firewall activated, and you should have up to date and active anti-virus and anti-spy software installed. This will go a long way to ensure that your payment details aren’t cloned and stolen when being entered online.
Keep your passwords safe
The more obscure your password, the better! Of course, make sure it’s not so obscure that you forget it, because it’s never a good idea to write them down. Always make sure you log out of sites once you’ve finished shopping too.
As you can see, it’s not rocket science to shop online in a safe and secure manner, it’s just a case of knowing what to look for. If you see an amazing deal on a website that just looks a bit dodgy, then don’t even attempt it. It’s likely that the deal is there to attract hapless buyers, who will enter their details and end up with a very bad deal instead. Always go for reputation, even if reputation costs you a tiny little bit more at the checkout screen.
If you can remember all these points, you’re free to curl up on your sofa of an evening, surfing the Net for amazing deals, and then waiting with anticipation for them to arrive on your doorstep a few days later!
A wonderful invention indeed!