Tips for safe online shopping ahead of end-of-year festivities

More and more people are loving online shopping. According to The National Retail Federation, online retail will have grown by 8% to 12% by the end of 2017, reflecting a growth rate three times higher than that of total retail sales. As the end-of-year festivities are approaching at a rapid pace, more customers are tempted into shopping sprees. To shop online safely, it is important to follow these basic rules.

Online shopping comes with its load of conveniences and traps

Online shopping is very convenient, especially at this period of the year: customers do not have to fight traffic to reach crowded shopping malls and keep circling the parking lot to find a free parking. Online stores are open 24/7 and it is easy to compare prices between different retailers while reading both customer and professional reviews of products. Product selection is also vast, and, products bought are shipped right to your door.

Ahead of Christmas and New Year, it is wise to adopt safety tips to shop online safely and protect personal identity and data from malicious attacks.

Use a secure Internet connection

Well-known websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission. They are generally symbolized by a little padlock in the address bar, or by a URL that starts with “https” instead of “http,” as the “s” stands for “secure.”

Shop on sites offering secure payment methods

It is recommended to make purchases only on sites that take secure payment methods such as credit cards and PayPal. They are also more likely to offer buyer protection in case a dispute arises.

Use strong passwords

A strong password is at least seven characters long. It should be created with a combination of letters, numbers, symbol, and with some uppercase characters. It is recommended to change passwords routinely. The same password should never be used for all online shopping sites or other internet activities.

Check the seller’s reputation

When making purchases on marketplaces like eBay, always check the seller’s reputation and read comments and customer feedback before buying. Clients should be wary of hot deals from unknown merchants. Also, emails or texts that claim to be from a retailer should be ignored as most of the time, they are phishing attempts asking confirmation of financial or personal details on a website.

Beware of fake shopping apps

In 2016, hundreds of phony retail apps mushroomed in Apple’s App Store and Google Play with the aim of tricking shoppers into downloading and using them. They operate in a similar manner as phishing emails and bear authentic-looking logos and marketing messaging, prompting clients to put their credit card information.

Avoid shopping from public networks or devices

Online shopping should be avoided when using a public computer, such as in an airport lounge, or when using a public Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop or hotel lobby, for instance. Using gift cards offered by retailers is also a smart way to shop without providing any personal data.

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