It is easy to compare prices, save enough time, and also avoid the rush while shopping, as we have the internet at our fingertips. But online shopping is also a prime risk zone where people might become a victim of identity theft.
Recent studies show that nearly 51% of purchases are made online, and the number is still growing. This increase in online shopping has also made it easy for cybercriminals to harm common shoppers. Consumers are becoming victims just because more people are using the internet without knowing the potential risk and how to avoid such a threat.
So, before plunging into the internet, you must be aware of the dos and don’ts of online shopping. This way you may protect your personal information and reduce the risk of an online scam or identity theft.
Compare prices and discounts –
Most of the online shopping sites offer great discounts throughout the year, but you must make sure you are getting the best discount available for your product. You must compare similar products with the value of their offered discounts, prices, and delivery charges. Choose the best item with the maximum discount available and make sure you apply the right coupon code for the product.
Check out reviews –
No matter what happens on the internet, no matter how much discount you are getting, always shop after checking out the reviews given by previous shoppers. You can use your PC or smartphone to check reviews at any point in time. It’s better to buy products that have mostly positive reviews.
Prepare a list –
Make a quick list of the products you need primarily. Make sure you prepare a list considering the best brands, best prices, maximum discounts, and quality of the products. Now you can arrange the order of buying based on the requirements or price. If you find out some items in your list are on sale, you may buy them first.
Create a budget –
Buying items at discount through online shopping can’t help you save money. You should set a budget for every item you want to buy. Set a budget based on what you can afford and for how long you’ll be using the item.
Read the fine print on every item –
Most online shopping sites monitor their visitors and offer discounts on the basis of their age, spending pattern, choice of products, selected brands, and other important factors. While buying some item, make sure to go through the terms and conditions a.k.a fine print associated with the product. It is possible that a certain big discount is applicable to you only if you purchase worth a certain amount, or buy 1 get 1, or on certain brands only. You may also need to check the warranty and return policy of the product.
Use cash while making payments –
You’ll spend less when you purchase items with cash. Use cash while buying products from the store; you might get a good cash discount. Of course, it is easier to pay using a credit or debit card when you shop online. In that case, make sure you are paying back the card within 3 to 4 days after buying such products.
Verify the website’s security –
You must keep yourself away from the online shopping risks as much as possible. For that reason, always shop from a website that is secure. How do you locate a secure website? Find websites with “HTTPS” in the URL, or look for a tiny padlock icon in your browser before confirming the site as an authentic, secure website.
Keep track of your statements –
Track your bank statements every month. If you ever notice a discrepancy, you may demand an explanation from the retailer. For example, if your credit card company overcharged you the interest on your credit card, you call the retailer and ask them to correct the error.
Avoid impulse buying –
It’s wise to avoid impulse buying as much as possible. If it’s not on your list, make sure you don’t add it for the time being. Online shops may give you lucrative discounts on items you don’t need right now. But, you should avoid buying the stuff you didn’t plan to purchase. This way, you can tame your overspending habits and save a decent amount from your monthly budget.
Stop using cards –
Using a credit or debit card for online shopping can trigger the chances of online fraud and identity theft. Once you provide your card details into the online shopping site’s money transfer portal, there’s a chance that hackers may hack your login and fetch your personal data from there. So, to increase your online shopping security, make sure you do not save your card details on that website just to make “one-click easy” payments.
Do not purchase food items online –
It is quite difficult to visit the grocery store, again and again, only to buy fruits and veggies. But presently, many websites deliver the purest form of food products, especially organic food or health products at cheap rates.
But do not buy food or health products online. Fresh food items and health products should be purchased directly from stores to ensure authenticity. Moreover, health products should be bought from popular stores since there are many websites online where fake products are being sold.
Avoid social networking site deals –
Do not trust such deals. Most of the URLs appearing in social ads are customized and will redirect you to social media sites. It means you might get redirected to a fraudulent website. You can view these deals as a reference but go directly to the retailer’s website for more details.
Avoid taking your friends with you –
It’s quite amazing to go shopping as a group, or with friends. But trust me…it’s also dangerous. If you need to shop smartly, it is wise to go alone. This way you’ll get most of the good deals left only for you; with friends, you might not get all the offers and discounts alone.
Also, people spend more time than usual when they are accompanied by friends. They may engage in impulse buying most of the time when they are with friends. As a result, they fall into the debt trap.
Don’t use wire money to pay for any product –
After buying a product from an online auction site, such as eBay, the seller might ask you to wire your payment. That is a mistake, don’t do it. Wiring money may push you into a fraud situation. You can’t get your money back if the item you ordered never arrives. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive your item.
Don’t forget to inspect your new product –
Notify your seller as soon as you get your package delivered. Check your product properly and call the seller if you have any issues. The seller may pick up your package and if the issue is genuine, you’ll get the replacement or the money will be refunded.
Don’t shop using public computers –
Online shopping will require your personal financial data, like credit card number, name, address, pin code, etc. So, if you are using a public network computer, like the one at a coffee shop or bookstore, stop it right now to avoid online shopping risk.
Hackers may access your private data by accessing your account through a public network. Those networks are pretty vulnerable to hackers and they can easily sneak in. Shared computer networks can be bugged with spyware or other malicious viruses. These viruses can harm your computer and report your credit card information to hackers. If you really need to use a public computer or network, try scanning it first with antivirus, internet security software like Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Norton, Mcafee, or any other software. This software can even increase your online shopping security to the next level if you use them at home, on your personal PC, laptop, or phone.
Do’s and don’ts of online shopping can be controversial. So, without thinking much, just follow your instincts. When you create your list, try to follow the order and don’t buy anything that’s not there. If you are getting a better offer for your product, check them out. But whatever you do, keep patience.