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Millions of us purchase something over the internet every day. Rather it’s bulk toilet paper from Amazon, a new dress from Etsy, or dinner off of Postmates, no body can deny the tempting convenience of online shopping. But like with anything that involves the internet and your credit card information, there are pitfalls. Luckily, they are easily avoided if you’re a smart shopper!

These 10 tips will help you and your money safe while shopping online!

 

Look for the green padlock

Before you get ahead of yourself and fill up an online shopping cart, check the website you’re on for a green padlock and HTTPS alongside the address! Most major retailers have realized that SSL-encrypted connections make their customers feel safe about shopping at their online stores and will have adopted a HTTPS, but be sure to never give your billing information to an unverified site.

 

Read all the details

Read the return policy, the reviews, and all the details you can soak up from the product page. You never want to get stuck with a broken or unsatisfactory item. Sites may try to bury their no-return policy or forget to remind you they only accept returns for store credit. They may also be sparse on the details or conditions of the item. If you’re unsure about a purchase and the online store doesn’t offer customer reviews on site, do your research! Google other users reviews, ask questions on forums and social websites, just be sure you can be confident with your shopping!

 

Avoid too-good-to-be-true sales

If a price is too low or a deal is too sweet: beware! Again, pay attention to details, you may be getting taken for a ride. There is a lot of uncertainty in online shopping, but if you find an authentic Persian rug for $50 you may want to reconsider the “bargain” you’re getting.

 

Stick with trusted brands

Shop brands and retailers you know! If you’ve previously purchased an item in real life, it’s a safe bet you’ll get the same quality you love from online. You’re always taking a risk with sizing and quality when buying from somewhere new. You’ll never know if your expectation matches reality until your package is delivered!

 

Be careful out in public

If you follow our blog you should already know this: when using public wi-fi use a VPN! It’s best to keep from online shopping until you’re connected to a private network, but if your purchase is time sensitive or absolutely necessary be wary of the public around you. Not only may the wi-fi be compromised, but anyone could be looking over your shoulder in attempt to see your credit card information. Don’t let shoulder surfers ruin your own surfing! So be discreet and double check that your VPN is turned on.

 

Do save your credit card info

It may seem like a time-saver for a site you frequent to have your credit card information saved, but it could turn into a security risk. Last year thousands of sites were targeted by hackers and credit card information was skimmed. If you insist on having your payment information saved online for convenience consider using a payment provider like PayPal.

(Not having your information saved may also save you money and from making rash purchases. With a few extra minutes to think about what you’re buying you may reason against it – or you may just be too lazy to go grab your credit card information.)

 

Keep an eye on your bank account

After a purchase has been complete, check your bank statement. Be sure the correct amount of money was taken from your account and nothing extra! You should also be watching for any suspicious behavior in case your details were stolen by someone. Report any incorrect payments immediately to the retailer and your bank.

 

Use a password manager

If you regularly shop at certain online stores you probably have an account. It saves you time in the digital checkout line and you may receive exclusive promotions! It may be tempting to use a short, easy to remember password for online shopping sites, but don’t give in! If you do a lot of online shopping and have a lot of accounts to manage consider getting a password manager. Now all your accounts will be much more secure and you will only have to keep track of one password!

 

Purchase through mobile apps when you can

Many retailers now have mobile apps available for your smartphone where you can shop around. If given the option, make your purchases through one of these apps! Apps are harder for hackers to hack and not as accessible to malware. They are a much safer platform than your computer or laptop!

 

Think before you buy

The world of online shopping has almost everything you can imagine. And with just a few clicks and a little patience, your purchase shows up right at your door! It’s always healthy to take a few minutes before buying online to fully think through what’s in your shopping cart. Is it absolutely necessary? Are you going to get what you expect? Will the item(s) arrive on time? Is the shipping cost reasonable? Don’t sprint through the checkout process, protect your payment info, and, of course, don’t spend money you don’t have!

Meg Krafft

Digital Marketing Assistant at The Security Awareness Company
After starting out creating digital and print marketing for a real estate company, Meg now assists in keeping up the marketing needs for SAC. When not working she's probably watching a good movie or indulging in local art and music.