10 Tips on Shopping Online Safely

Online shopping is so easy and convenient that we get used to it pretty quickly. Generally it is safe to shop on the internet and this may make us comfortable with sharing our card details and other valuable information readily. It is always best to be on the cautious side and take extra care while you are spending your money. Here are 10 tips to help you stay safe.

1) Check Sites’ Reliability
It may be only few bucks you are spending. But the troubles can start small and you don’t want crooks to take your money no matter how small the amount is. Taking money from your credit cards fraudulently and using your personal details to commit fraud is only one part of the problem. There are thousands of people setting up websites online selling goods and services they don’t intend to deliver.
If you are using a reputable website like E-bay you should be able to see the feedbacks on the provider. If it is an independent website you may want to ask a few questions before placing the order. If they are not responding fast enough or not making sense in their responses you should look for an alternative provider.
2) Check and Enter the URL Manually
Sometimes you lose track of where you started and where you ended up when you are searching on the web. There are a few companies that rely on URLs that are similar to a big name or remind it. They may look legitimate but it is safer to enter the URL of the website you know manually to make sure you haven’t been tricked to click a fake link. For example, if you know the web address of the bank or insurance company you trust enter it manually, instead of searching for the URL by searching for the name of the business and following the link.
3) Avoid Using a Wi-Fi Connection
Always try to do your purchases on a secure connection. Whenever possible avoid using Wi-Fi connections and public computers to insure that no one else can access your details. They may be convenient and you may think that you will be in and out quickly but many people have access to the same network.
4) Don’t Store Your Personal Details and Passwords on the Computer
If you store your personal details and access information on your computer everyone who gets access to your computer can open those accounts and know your details. It is easy to do so but think about security. There are computer hackers as well as scammers who are constantly trying to break into computers and websites.
5) Look for Certain Signs of Security
You may need to give personal details at some websites. For example, you may need to fill out the required information to get auto insurance quotes online. The sites that collect and store personal information should have certain security measures. Generally, existence of these security measures is indicated by displaying signs like Verisign Symbol. Before you start filling your details in such quote websites check their security and privacy statements.
6) Only Give Out Necessary Information
If you feel you are being asked too many questions that are not necessary you should think about it twice and check another company. Again in the example of automobile insurance quotes, if they ask your social security number and everything else before they give you a rough quote, you must make sure that you can trust the company.
7) Apply Common Sense
Common sense keeps you out of many problems. If you notice anything funny or out of the ordinary you should stand back and think if you want to proceed. For example, always be aware of pop ups and people who are being persistent. It is not generally a good idea to open an unsolicited e-mail let alone start shopping on a website that came in an unsolicited e-mail or text message.
8) Use Disposable or Virtual Card Numbers
There are cards that you can top up and use only up to available amount. Also, some banks can provide you virtual card numbers that offers additional layer of security. It is best to use these sorts of cards on sites that you only use once. It is best not to use your debit card online if you can use a credit card instead.
9) Use an Intermediary Payment Options
These days you can complete your shopping without entering any personal details thanks to intermediary payment systems like “Paypal”. Use them instead of credit card payment option.
10) Regularly Check your Bank Accounts and Card Balances
This way you can quickly discover if there is something wrong with your payments or if there is any unrecognized payment. Generally, scammers take small amount of money from accounts because they are not noticed. Check every payment carefully.
Hopefully you will never need to deal with any unpleasant situation when you are shopping online. Staying on your guard always helps. Here are a few more tips on how to complete internet transactions safely and avoid the scammers.

Author: Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science for business management domains. Professionally a professor (IIT, IIM) and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a Regular Contributor of Business Fundas and a blogging addict. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.