The World Wide Web offers many compelling benefits to shopping online: the endless selection of products and services, easy price comparison, convenient shipping options, great discount deals, and so many others.
In addition, online stores are open 24/7, which means they relieve shoppers from the hassle to fight never-ending traffic jams, drive to an overcrowded mall, hunt for an available parking space or stand in slow-moving checkout lines.
Instead, everything can be done remotely from the comfort of one’s own home.
However, even though online shopping is convenient, easy and quick, it does come with a potential downside.
Dangers in the form of scammers, fraudsters, phishing, identity theft, malware and other types of cybercrime pose a real threat to consumers in the 21st century.
The following 6 tips will help you shop with confidence and better protect yourself.
Use Well-Known Websites
Prefer doing online business with familiar brands you know and fully trust.
Purchasing from reputable and reliable sources should always be the first line of defense.
Research the Retailer
Before placing an order, read third-party reviews and use Google to see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the retailer.
This is a great way to discover if an e-merchant has a history of scam reports or complaints.
Look for Security Indicators
Buy only from websites that have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed.
Make sure the site’s address starts with HTTPS (instead of HTTP) and verify that a locked padlock icon appears in the URL bar of your browser.
Use Safe Payment Options
Credit cards like Visa, MasterCard or American Express are generally the safest choice.
PayPal is another safe alternative and sites like PPaccepted.com offer a convenient way to find merchants that support this payment method.
Using safe payment techniques offers better buyer protection and an ability to dispute a transaction in case of a problem.
Avoid websites that only accept money orders, wire transfers, checks or cash.
Explore the Store’s Policies
Prefer vendors that offer a solid money-back guarantee and easy refund options.
Be Careful of Rock-Bottom Prices
Remember the old saying: when something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
Avoid merchants that offer dirt-cheap prices compared to normal or average market prices – this is usually a scam.