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The internet has made our lives easier in so many ways, but with the good comes the bad. Online shopping is one of the conveniences that we love but it can also be a breeding ground for cyber threats.
In 2020, almost 78.8 percent of consumers have fallen victim to online shopping scams. As you click your way to get your favorite groceries delivered to your doorstep there are hackers out there who are getting smarter. But hey, don’t worry! There are a few precautions that you can take to enjoy a safe shopping experience.
Here are 9 online shopping safety tips that are very easy to follow and will help you keep your bank accounts safer. Learn how to buy online safely without any threats!
1. Shop on trusted sites and communicate through official channels
There are almost 2.5 million online retailers in the United States and more than 9 million across the world. So, how do we identify which ones to trust?
Here’s the simplest online shopping safety tip! Check for the padlock symbol in the URL address bar. You can also check for “https” (not just “http”) at the beginning of the site’s address. Check up on the URL bar on top of the browser screen right now to find it!🔒
This generally means that it’s a secure site where your data is encrypted. In simple words, it shows you that the site has some level of protection.
2. Wait till you connect to a secure Wi-Fi network
Free hotspots can be fine if you want to Google the word “encrypted” but not if you want to shop online. Public Wi-Fi also attracts a pool of hackers trying to steal your important information. These free internet zones are not secured and don’t ask for a password. Everyone and anyone can connect to it. And therefore, this is not the place to log into your PayPal or any payment gateway.
Does this mean that any Wi-Fi available in public is unsafe? Nope, not if they ask for a password. These are generally more secured Wi-Fi networks that you may use. But it’s best to avoid shopping outside the security of your own network.
3. Keep your apps and software updated
You may not realize it but apps and software updates can protect you from scams. Whether it’s your operating system or your shopping app, the programmers keep upgrading to offer a secure platform for users. As hackers get smarter, our apps also need to get smarter.
Therefore, don’t put off your system update until next week just because it will hamper your current tasks. Next time you see the alert notification— just hit update!
This is not only a great online shopping safety tip, but it will also help your apps and software run smoothly with a ton of extra features. Win-win, right?
4. Always keep an eye on your bank statements
A smart online shopping safety tip to ward off fraud is just to be aware of your bank statements. No matter what transaction you make, most banks have the option to send you a notification like “Dear Customer! XXX amount was deducted from your account. Let us know if it’s not you!”
And you must definitely let them know if it’s not you. At times, you might overlook the message. Make the effort to check your bank statement once a week or so just to make sure that you know where your money is going.
5. Be wary of email scams
Whether it is New Year’s or Independence Day, there are always exciting offers crash landing on your email. You might be tempted to open them and check what the great deal is but beware because there are plenty of email scammers waiting for your curiosity to get the best of you. With just one click, a delightful 70% off sale, becomes an avenue for malware.
That’s why you must avoid opening emails by anonymous senders or websites that you didn’t know existed. You can find a sale when you need one from your trusted websites. Don’t risk it with random emails.
If you want to save money and get valuable deals you can try some Amazon hacks instead!
On that note, you should also be wary of phony messages or shady calls saying that your bank account is at threat. Just block them off and always reach out to your bank directly if you find something fishy.
6. Avoid using debit cards
When it comes to payment, a good online safety shopping tip is to use online payment gateways or credit cards. Your debit card is way riskier if your bank details are stolen. The investigation can take months and you may never get your money back.
Credit cards as such offer more protection to consumers. Most companies instantly offer you a refund and get into the investigation.
7. Make your passwords hack-proof
Call it a classic or a cliché, this online safety shopping tip is of utmost importance. Get secure passwords! All your private sites have passwords for a reason. They are the first gatekeepers of your data.
Create stronger passwords with characters and numbers. Don’t keep the same password for different websites or change them after a while. Passwords are sometimes tricky and difficult to remember and hence, it’s good practice to have a virtual password manager. Additionally, remember to never save your passwords or financial details on your devices!
8. Be extra-careful with shopping apps
Almost every online shop has launched an app that makes it easier to shop. However, not everything on your Google Play or Apple store is safe. Our online shopping safety tip: check the comments and reviews before installing. Even after you hit download, look closely at what permissions the app is asking for.
Are they asking for your contact list? Or your gallery access? What for? Think about it before you follow through with the installation. No shopping app needs to know everything you do on your mobile phone.
9. Beware of links that offer deals that are too good to be true
So, you are doing your evening scroll on Instagram and you come across an astonishingly great deal on the bag you always wanted. Don’t get too excited and click on it — not even out of curiosity because this could be a targeted trap. Social media sites have become hotbeds for shopping scams. If you found a deal from a known brand while scrolling, it’s better to look up their website. Do your research and shop from the store directly whenever possible as social media promotions can be fraudulent.
Not every good thing is a scam!
Now that you know how to shop online safely, here’s a reward for you to ease your shopping dilemmas. If you are someone who loves shopping, grabbing great deals, and organizing grocery lists— you will love Carrot.
Sounds like your good ol’ veggie but it’s a simple extension tool for your browser. Every time you find something great online and add it to your cart, Carrot will automatically add it to your collection. You can browse through other websites, collect more items, and then come back later when you’re ready to make the purchase! Being able to organize your carts can help you become a smart shopper!
Shopping is fun but do it responsibly with Carrot and all the online shopping safety tips that we shared. Explore Carrot today to feel the magic! Best of all, it’s free!