Online shopping has brought in a lot of convenience to us. Bargains are great, product selections are huge, shipping is fast and returns are hassle-free. All these combine to give us a great shopping experience. A very good story that may not end well if we do not pay attention to certain basics. This convenience has its own set of risks. There are unscrupulous people who are there to take advantage of our innocence.
The use of phishing attacks where a fraudsters website or email pretends to be a real site and use of malwares is on the rise. This might seem alarming but use of some common sense and calmness can protect your privacy, money and let you experience and enjoy great online shopping. Here are some very useful tips to stay protected.
Always use trusted websites: while you shop, always try to go directly to websites and search within them rather searching on search engines. This is a very old trick where phishing websites are created with similar names like amazon-great-offers.net or something similar. Nowadays every retail outlet have there own web stores. You will find enticing offers on these phishing websites but it is always better to go directly to these shopping websites.
Look for encryption: make sure that the website address should start with https://... This indicates that the data transmission will happen over the SSL and the data is encrypted. Whenever a site opens with SSL, there is a small padlock that appears in the browser address bar.
You may click to check the identity of the website. In case any issue is found with the SSL certificate of the website, the browser will warn you. Don't proceed with the transaction if you see any anomaly in SSL certificate.
Use credit cards: always try and use credit cards with smaller limits or virtual credit cards. Never use debit cards since you can always dispute fraudulent charges. Also since debit cards are directly linked to your checking account, the damage can be higher in case someone gets access to your card details. So it is always advisable to use credit cards or virtual cards specifically designed for online shopping.
Never share payment information: no genuine website will ever ask for you card or payment details over emails. Even if you are asked to share details over phone, then double check the reliability of the vendor. It is always safe to use third-party payment processors like paypal or google checkout to make payments.
Order copies and statements: keep copies of your online purchase for documentation purposes. Every merchant sends you a detailed email having product details and amount. Keep this information with you to avail any warranties and support. Also check your account statements every month before payment. This ensures that no unknown or fraudulent transactions have occurred on your card and report to financial institution or bank immediately.
Use common sense: if you see any top item at throwaway price, take a pause and do some research. Call the merchant and seek product details, warranty and support conditions. After all, it is too good to be true.
Device security: make sure the devices like your computer, mobile phones are completely secure and have latest security software installed. Also avoid using public computers as they have lesser security as compared to your private devices.
In the United States, online purchases with a credit card are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which limits your responsibility for fraudulent or erroneous charges to $50. You are required to write a physical letter within 60 days detailing any complaint to the retailer, with a return receipt acting as proof that the creditor received the letter.
We also have an article which talks about safe internet browsing. Together with this you may assure yourself of wonderful and safe browsing experience.