Have you ever participated in a survey asking if you are interested in online shopping? The main concern of every potential online shopper would be the safety of the personal data that they have provided to the sites on which they wish to purchase a product or service. Online shopping can have enticing deals but can contain higher risks than a traditional retail store. Protecting yourself from those who may try to snatch your identity for their own diabolical reasons is possible. Here are some suggestions for protecting yourself when shopping online:
• Look for the shopping website policy regarding the guarantee that they will not sell any of your information.
• Check the address bar for a secure address (This means those who have https are secured than those which sport just an http). Another added feature is a picture of a padlock on the address bar. Before you enter your personal information make sure that the website is secured.
• A secured website prevents your information from being stolen by hackers and thieves. The system protects itself by encrypting or scrambling your information so that when it is hacked it is unusable for hackers. Once your information reaches the online store’s website, it is automatically decoded so that the one receiving your order can then process it. Remember that the higher number of encryption, the better.
• Check when the shopping website was last updated. An older website has the needed security tools to ensure a safe shopping experience. Research the merchant you are going to deal with by looking at consumer ratings. Stay out of websites that have poor ratings.
• The website should contain detailed contact information, giving you several options to contact them. You can make a “test” by choosing one option such as sending an email query then wait to see if the online store will respond quickly. Chances are if they have a good customer support, then you are in good hands.
• Pay using a credit or debit card with a safe online shopping guarantee. Many of these credit card companies offer you 100% coverage for any loss because of fraud while you do your online shopping. Use only one credit or debit card when you shop so that you can track your online purchases. Search for a credit card that allows you to review your transactions so that it will be easy to spot a problem early on.
• Use a third party bill pay system like Paypal or Alertpay. You save yourself from trying to repeatedly input your own information each time you shop online. Paypal will help dispute erroneous charges made under an account that is not yours. Paypal is recommended as you have added flexibility to dispute charges that are not as described, misleading, etc. For extra added security, link your credit cards to your Paypal account.
• Double check the product description before you make a purchase and do not just base the order on the picture of the product you wish to purchase. The real item may be quite different from the picture. In case you have done this and yet the product is different when it arrives from what is specified on the website you can call the website to complain about it and have your product replaced. If in case the website would not address your concern, the next time you shop, do it with another shopping website and not them. You may be getting the same service all over again.
• Take time to thoroughly read the confirmation of your order for the details of the products before you click “yes” or “agree”. Make an additional checking on the quantity of your order, prices and other details. This will save you the hassle of returning the product back to the store. Just make sure the is replaceable.
• Keep a printed record of your order and confirmation number for proper documentation. A reputable merchant will send you a confirmation email about your order. Keeping a hard copy will guard you in cases that your order is lost or deleted by mistake or that the order is not delivered as promised.
• Keep your password private. Never use common passwords. The best way to go about is to make sure your password is at least composed of eight characters with a combination of words and numbers or special characters. That way, the hackers will have a hard time hacking your data.
Finally, shopping at a major retailer’s website is relatively risk free but for smaller retail websites, the threat can be real. Some common complaints about online shopping aside from identity theft have to do with slow shipping, paying for items that one never received and items that do not match the order place.
You must do your part in order to safeguard your private information such as having a browser that complies with the industry security standards, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This can scramble the data while it is being sent on the internet for your security and safety.