How safe is online shopping?

There are many advantages to shopping online-you can shop at any time, you don’t need to worry about parking and your purchases are delivered to your door! Buying online can still be a little scary. Typing out your precious credit card numbers and sending it off into cyberspace. Who knows what evil hackers are out there ready to catch your personal digits. Shops on the ‘net are popping up all over the place and often the best deals around can be found online. But how can we combat virtual credit card snatchers and buy online with peace of mind. But there are some security traps to watch out for. Use your common sense and some simple steps to ensure your online shopping is as safe as possible.

Recent research commissioned by eBay revealed just over half of Australian online shoppers surveyed said they worry about their personal and financial details being stolen. My recommendation is to use a secure payment method such as PayPal, as it allows buyers to shop online without having to share their bank account or credit card details with anyone.

There are few safety protocols that we need to follow strictly before making any purchase online:

  • Check out sellers

Conduct independent research before you buy from a seller you have never done business with. Some attackers try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear legitimate, so you should verify the site before supplying any information. Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill. Search for merchant reviews.

  • Make sure the site is legitimate

Before you enter your personal and financial information to make an online transaction, look for signs that the site is secure. This includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with shttp or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured. Never use unsecured wireless networks to make an online purchase. 

  • Protect your personal information:

 When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is necessary for the vendor to request that information. Remember, you only need to fill out required fields on a vendors checkout form. Before providing personal or financial information, check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used.

  • Use safe payment options

Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. Also, unlike debit cards, credit cards may have a limit on the monetary amount you will be responsible for paying if your information is stolen and used by someone else. Never send cash through the mail or use a money-wiring service because you’ll have no recourse if something goes wrong.  Don’t forget to review return policies. You want a no-hassle ability to return items.


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Last modified: May 20, 2014