What does it take to shop for a really good gift? Do you spend the entire day hopping from one store to another looking at just about everything before deciding which one to get? Do you risk your own sanity by going into a shop crowded with bargain maniacs who deem that tugging and resorting to foul language are the best way to have their way? Do you fall in line for an hour just so you can get your friend that billowy coral top that goes so well with her turquoise maxi skirt?
The fastest and most convenient way to get access to some of the best deals around the world, the advent of online shopping drastically changed the way people look and use the internet–from avenue whose sole purpose is for exchange of information to a dynamic trade hub where sellers and buyers can do business without the need for physical contact.
Sadly though, online shopping has its downside as well. Its popularity attracted a great number of individuals looking for ways to get other people’s information so they can use it for personal gain. But don’t fret just yet. Shopping via the internet can still be a fun and safe experience as long as you follow these simple tips.
1. Buy only from trusted websites. First on our list of online shopping tips is to purchase only from trusted sources. As much as you can, stick with websites you’re already familiar with and those that have a good business record. One good way to tell if a website is legit is if it has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You’ll know a website has SSL if its URL starts with HTTPS:// (instead of HTTP://). Sites like these usually display a padlock icon in the status bar at the bottom of your browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar.
Moreover, be cautious of sites that use different top-level domains,like .net or .info instead of .com, or are misspelled. This is one of the most common tricks fraudsters use to get your information.
2. Monitor your credit. One good way to prevent online credit fraud is by regularly looking at electronic statements of your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Take time to go through each one and make sure there isn’t a single fraudulent charge. Don’t take the importance of monitoring your credit lightly. It can just save you from years’ worth of debts.
3. Keep information private. Protect your privacy by holding back as much information as you can. Even the biggest online stores don’t need your social security number to do business.
4. Be realistic. When looking for the best buys, be sure to keep in mind the regular store price of the item you wish to purchase. If a deal seems too good to be true, chances are it is. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller why their item is offered at such a low price before making any decision.
5. Be sure of your calculations. Before purchasing an item, check if the price offered by the seller includes shipping and handling, insurance, taxes, and any other additional charges. The last thing you want is to find out later that the item you purchased–including additional charges–is actually five dollars more expensive than what’s offered in a nearby store.