Top Ten Tips for Shopping Safely Online
Our top ten tips designed for shoppers purchasing in cyberspace. Follow these tips to shop safely online.The amounts of shops and services accepting payment online is increasing dramatically, meaning there is an extremely wide range of products available at the click of a mouse. It is no surprise that scammers have flocked to the retail side of the Internet looking to steal your money, but if you follow some easy safety procedures, using your credit or debit card online can be just as safe as using it in your local shop.
10. Never wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram!
Services like Western Union and MoneyGram are designed for wiring money to people that you know, like family or friends. Legitimate businesses never use such services. Scammers use it because they can pick up your money from any branch in the world with their fake I.D. and then they can disappear with your money. If a website asks you to pay through Western Union or MoneyGram donít buy anything from that site. In fact, the only way you should ever pay for products online is through debit or credit card (preferably credit).
9. Never buy from new websites.
Of course legitimate sites are always starting up, but you shouldnít buy from websites that have only just appeared, unless you have good reason to know they are genuine. You can find out how old a website is by going to the WHOIS database and looking at the registration details of the domain. Also, you can Google the site to see if there is much positive feedback on the site. A couple of hundred or a thousand hits may sound like a lot, but it isnít, especially when you consider sites like Amazon.com have hundreds of millions hits. If a site returns more than 3 or so thousand returns on a Google search, you may be alright.
8. Only enter your card information on a secure server
If you're worried that sounds too technical, you needn't be. It is simple to find out if the webpage you are on is secure by looking at the address of the webpage at the top of your browser. All website addresses begin with http:// or https:// - the latter meaning the site is secure. (For the technically curious the whole thing stands for ďHypertext Transfer Protocol SecureĒ) Whilst simply browsing the website the address may only start with http:// but when it comes to the page where you enter your card details, if the webpage address doesnít start with https:// then you should leave the site and not enter your details. All legitimate sites will take you to a secure page to enter your personal information.
7. Never buy from a site with poor spelling and grammar
If you noticed the sales page had poor grammar, syntax or spelling then you donít want to buy from that site, regardless of whether the site is legitimate. If they canít spell correctly on the digital storefront which everyone sees, then they are not that professional, and you donít want to deal with people who are unprofessional, especially when it concerns your money. Many scam websites claiming to sell things originate from non-speaking countries like China and Russia, meaning the English on the site is often poor.
6. Donít buy from websites with poor contact details
The website you buy from should have adequate contact details. This means they should have a postal address, phone number and an appropriate email address. Donít trust sites that use Hotmail, Yahoo or GMail email addresses (or any other free web based email service for that matter). Scammers often use those types of email addresses, whilst legitimate companies use their POP3 domain email addresses (e.g. contact@our_company.com).
5. Donít buy from poorly designed websites
The running theme here is professionalism, because scammers lack it. Spotting a poorly designed site may be slightly harder for people with no experience in digital design and development, but the signs are still there. Scammers who run scam website will use website templates to create their sites. Because they change sites every few months and often run several at a time, the sites will be quickly thrown together and will lack professionalism meaning the sites may have design errors, spelling errors and a general lack of branding.
4. Donít buy from sites if the prices are too good
Because most scam websites wonít actually sell anything, they will of course bait their victims with extremely low prices. Ask yourself if the prices are too good to be true. If they are, you may be getting scammed.
3. Have up-to-date Antivirus and Spyware Removal Software
Most malware and spyware are designed to steal your details, including card information. This means that even if you are buying from a legitimate site like Amazon.com or EBay, your information may still be at risk because the malware on your computer is sitting there waiting for you to enter your personal information. That information can then be broadcasted back to the scammer. Always run up-to-date antivirus software to make sure your computer is clean. This also means you should not shop on shared computers such as library computers or Internet cafť computers. You donít know what sort of malware is lurking on these machines waiting for someone to get their credit card information out.
2. Donít send your bank account, routing number or social security information
For readers in the UK, this means sort code and national insurance number. Online retailers donít need this information so if they ask for it, you should shy away. The only information required to make an online transaction is your card number, issue number, expiry and start dates and the security code at the rear of the card, and often they need the address the card is registered to for security purposes.
1. Novice shoppers should stick with the famous brands
If youíre new to the whole e-commerce scene, it is best to stick with reputable sites, and by this we mean Ė
Manufacturer websites, such as the official Sony, Dell or Samsung websites.
Shop websites, such as the official PCWorld, Walmart or Debenhams websites.
Other famous sites, such as Amazon.com or Buy.com.
Another bonus to sticking with sites like this is that the prices will always be competitive and there is plenty of buyer protection!
Those are our top tips to shopping safely online, and if you follow them, you should not find yourself falling foul to any Internet scams.