The ease with which we can order, and receive, products online is something of a double-edged sword.
We all love a bit of retail therapy and given just what we’ve gone through collectively due to the COVID-19 crisis, you can forgive yourself for making one to many online purchases. However the most important thing is to make sure that the purchases you do make online, are done so in as safe a way as possible.
In 2013 the percentage of Americans who made an online purchase over the course of the year stood at 73% and by 2018 that number had risen to 80%.
It’s a fair bet that this figure has skyrocketed over the course of 2020, both due to the growing ease with which making an online purchase has become AND the growing desire to avoid the unnecessary contact that comes from an in-person visit to a store.
A week doesn’t pay where there isn’t some form of sale occurring, this is even more true of online shopping than it is with high-street stores. Whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime day etc… there is always the possibility of a ‘deal’ you can’t ignore.
Given how 2020 has truly sucked, it seems only fair that you might wish to treat yourself with an online purchase or two, all we suggest is that you take great care to make sure that any transaction you complete is as safe and secure as possible.
The Wild West
The fact that pretty much all of us now do a large portion of our entire shopping exploits from a device means that the number of scammers out there is growing at an alarming rate.
Always be mindful of where you visit and how you act once you are within the confines of the sites themselves. If something seems off, exit immediately.
Basic Security Tips
Some time ago it was pretty easy to judge if a website looked suspicious, but now the scammers are much more organized in the way they go about their nefarious activities.
A good way to avoid a criminal endeavour would be to stick with well-respected brands that you are well aware of, another way is to avoid any site that has the prefix http, as opposed to the SSL secured sites that use https.
Always look for the ‘lock’ icon in or around the pages of a website that deals with the payment process, this will offer you a secondary level of protection.
Stick to payment options that are well known and relevant to services you already use, that way you have the additional protection offered at the end of the payment provider itself. For instance most banks will ask you to fill in additional fields to complete a payment and that will give you the additional peace of mind you might need.
Never give details such as your social security number or your birthday, these are prime bits of data that scammers love to secure and are not the kinds of information that a respected site would request.
An additional, and some would say key, step to take is to make sure your device is adequately protected by a strong level of anti-virus protection. A good product in this field will alert you the moment you even get close to accessing a particularly virulent scamming site.
Other anti-virus providers will protect your system from an attack that would seek to garner the information they require, direct from the device itself.
Research, Research, Research
The sheer size of the online shopping market has led to a comparable increase in the number of sites that offer great opportunities to get feedback on them. So for instance if you are unsure of the validity of a site you can always check out the reviews offered on them in any number of relevant review sites.
It’s definitely the case that smart shoppers use online resources to compare brands, and that works not only in terms of spotting the brands that have the best deals but also to help you dictate which providers are most reputable and less likely to provide you with a headache further down the line.
Basically you should consider the security and safety of the sites you visit with as much vigor as you use when it comes to finding the best bargain. It should be part and parcel of your online shopping strategy and you should never complete a purchase if you feel something isn’t quite right, not when you can so easily look for a second opinion.