5 Ways to Shop Safely Online

By on February 9, 2016
5 Ways to Shop Safely Online

By Eleanor Weston−

From grocery shopping to clothes and electricals, the internet is increasingly hailed not only as the most convenient place to shop, but also as the go-to marketplace to find a good deal. As online commerce grows, the issue of cyber security becomes ever more important, and it is essential to protect your personal data as well as your money when making purchases via the internet. Here are some tips for staying secure online.

Look For SSL Protection

In the age of the internet, virtually anyone can establish an online shop. With companies such as this one making it easy to set up a professional, fully functional ecommerce site, small businesses have the opportunity to sell their products without the costs of a brick-and-mortar store. The online market is equally a great place for consumers to find unique and handcrafted goods, and often great deals like Lowes promo Codes. But with so many unknown businesses online it can be difficult to know which ones to trust. SSL protection is the most basic level of security that all online stores should have, as it enables sensitive data – such as credit card details – to be transferred securely. If a website has adequate SSL protection, the web address will appear as “https” rather than just “http”, and a padlock symbol will be visible in the address bar. If these telltale signs are absent, do not make any transactions via this site.

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Seek Out Contact Details

Another way to determine the legitimacy of an online business is to look for genuine contact details. A trustworthy business should have no qualms about providing a telephone number, email and postal address, and it may also be useful to do a Google search to find out where the company’s registered headquarters are located. Whilst some legitimate businesses may simply not recognize the importance of including these details online, as a consumer it is best to be on the side of caution; if it looks like it would be difficult to get in touch with them, avoid handing over any money or personal details.

Install a Phishing Filter

Phishing scams are increasingly prevalent in the online sphere, and whilst poor spelling and badly reproduced company logos are a dead giveaway, some phishing sites are harder to spot. A phishing filter will run a check on every site you visit, comparing them to a list of known phishing sites, and will alert you if you appear to be on a dubious website. Most web browsers, such as like Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox, now come with built-in phishing filters which you can activate via the settings. Simply search online for step-by-step instructions according to your chosen browser.

Listen to Other Customers

It is equally important to remember that a legitimate business is not necessarily a good business; even if a website has the necessary security measures in place, they may have a bad reputation when it comes to returns, refunds or product quality. The best way to check the reliability of a lesser known company is to read customer reviews, which can usually be found by searching the company name online. If an online store has a habit of providing poor service, it is highly likely that unsatisfied customers will take to the internet to alert others; repeated negative reviews is often a good indicator that you should steer clear.

Pay by Credit Card

Last but not least, it is not only illegitimate websites that pose a threat; cyber scammers will do their best to infiltrate the more renowned sites as well, so even when shopping from sites such as Amazon, it pays to be vigilant. Using a credit card which offers fraud protection will help to guard you if your details are stolen online – check the terms and conditions of your credit card provider for a clause which covers fraudulent online purchases. Equally, be thorough when checking invoices as well as bank statements to ensure that every transaction you pay for online was actually made by you.

Eleanor Weston is a former teacher turned freelance writer, specializing in technology and business. In addition to writing, she enjoys gardening, photography and Zumba.

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5 Ways to Shop Safely Online