Online shopping in 2021 is not the same as it was a decade ago. Today, the risk of being hacked or tracked while you do your shopping on the internet is a big concern. Each website or shopping portal you visit may be compromised, tracking you or giving you a bad deal because of your location or online profile. How do you shop smartly online in 2021 and stay secure while at it?
Important tips for online shoppers
Mind your security
For most online shoppers, buying an item online is as simple as searching, finding the product, and buying it with a credit card or an online payment processor like PayPal. However, the online shopping landscape has changed and cybersecurity is a major concern for consumers and merchants alike. Today, every shopper should be aware of the risks they are facing while shopping online and how to protect themselves.
Here are some of the tried and tested ways to ensure your security and privacy online when shopping:
Only access secured shopping websites
If the online shopping website you are visiting does not have a valid SSL certificate, then you probably shouldn’t put your credit card information there. A secured website will have the HTTPS prefix before its domain name and will appear green on your browser’s address bar. For instance, Amazon.com may appear as HTTPS://www.amazon.com.
Luckily, all the modern browsers will warn you if the website you are visiting does not have a valid SSL certificate. To be on the safe side, ensure that you keep your devices’ web browser updated at all times.
Use a VPN while shopping
It’s becoming easier for hackers and online fraudsters to intercept your network activity especially when you are shopping online and making payments. They could have gained access to your home WIFI network, your devices, or taken control of your device’s internet browser without your knowledge. This is why you should consider securing your internet activity behind a Virtual Private Network.
Among other security functions, a VPN ensures that any communication coming to or leaving the device is secured and encrypted. You can download a VPN to secure payment while shopping online so that hackers will not have access to your device or network, therefore unavailable to steal your payment information and hack your bank accounts.
Keep your antivirus up to date
Assuming that you already have good antivirus software installed on your devices, you should be proactive about keeping it updated. New attack methods and vulnerabilities are always cropping up and updating your antivirus will help you stay secure. While at it, also ensure that you are using updated software or applications on your internet devices at all times.
Beware of phishing emails and online scams
Online shoppers like you are always being targeted by online fraudsters and scammers. You may receive an email that appears to be coming from an authentic online shopping website or payment processing service like PayPal. Always double-check the sender’s email address and if in doubt, get in touch with the merchant or payment platform directly on phone or webchat. Do not click on email links or provide sensitive payment information on email.
Always compare prices
There are so many websites and ways you can check if the website you are purchasing from is giving you a bad price while online shopping. Before you make that purchase, try and compare prices for the same products on price comparison platforms such as Shopzilla, Google Shopping, Idealo, Yahoo shopping, Shopsavvy among others.
These price comparison platforms allow you to see live prices from several online merchants so that you can choose the best deal. You can use one of the online shopping websites such as Amazon to search for a product and then search for the same item on the comparison website. However, be sure to check that the website with the lowest price is authentic and trustworthy.
Check the website’s return policy
A lot of shoppers are getting the short end of the deal when they order items from small merchants that do not have a return policy online. If the item you purchase does not meet your standards or has a defect, then you might want to return it to the merchant and get a refund. This is not possible if the merchant does not have a return policy. While at it, also read through the merchant’s policy and find out where they are located in case there is a dispute and you want to file a lawsuit.
Pay with a secure platform or credit card
Paying with a credit card or a secure platform like PayPal while shopping online will ensure that your money is protected. If the merchant does not deliver, you will be able to recover your money. Avoid sending money to online merchants using bank transfers or other unsecured methods. All in all, online shopping can be convenient and fun if you take all the precautions while doing it. Make sure that you are always secure and be on the lookout for a good deal. Stay safe!