10 Essential Tips for Online Shopping Safety

The guest post is by Annie Wallace who blogs on viral marketing for moms as well as loves collecting DIY gadgets.

I know, this blog is rather about saving money than spending – but for the most part smart shopping is the most effective way to save! You can save a penny each day by not buying something and then lose three thousands in one minute once you are get scammed!

As with anything in life, online shopping has its advantages and disadvantages. You can shop from the comfort of your own home, search multiple stores all at once, compare prices and find discount vouchers for various products at the click of a button.

The main disadvantage is that if you’re not aware of the dangers, then you’re at risk of falling for a scam. There are plenty of scammers out there, so we’ve put together ten ways of avoiding them…

1. Avoid spam emails – Companies should only be emailing you with offers if you’ve subscribed to their newsletter, or have actively opted to receive them. If you get unsolicited mail then just delete it, as it could be a scammer posing as that company, just to get your bank details. If you do like the look of an offer, delete the email and visit the company’s website in your browser instead – that way you’ll find out if it’s for real.

2. Check for encryption – When it comes to entering your card details, address or anything sensitive about yourself, there’s one simple check you should make. The web address (URL) should begin with https://, as opposed to http://. The added ‘s’ means that it is secure, and encrypted by software that skews your details. This means it’s only available to your eyes, and the computer at the other end. If the site is not encrypted, then anyone can access the information.

3. Check for company information – all reputable companies will be proud to show what they’re all about, where they come from and how they can be contacted. At the bottom of the home page you should see links to pages like About Us and Privacy Policy. They should also have a toll free customer service phone line, which shows they’re a grounded company, and not afraid to be contacted.

4. Check for approval certificates – These come from third party organizations, such as BBBOnline and TRUSTe and will be shown as a logo, or at the bottom of the homepage. Click the logo to visit their site, or google the name to see if it is an authentic certificate of safety and approval.

5. Look up the company – you can do this on websites that track well known (and lesser known) scammers, and report them worldwide. If you know of any phishing scams, or the like, you can contribute to these sites and stop others being caught out too. There are forums, websites and email newsletters available, and we recommend Scam.com for the latest news.

6. Listen to your instincts – once you’ve been shopping online for a while you’ll get to know what a reputable company’s website looks like. If something seems amiss, even if you can’t put your finger on it, then get out of there and do some background research. A decent company will hire a content writer that doesn’t make any spelling or grammatical mistakes, and they won’t need to have hundreds of adverts hanging around either.

7. Check shopping portals and communities – Take CouponSherpa for example: you can search the entire site for the shop name, and instantly find genuine consumer votes and ratings. If there’s nothing to be found, then you should be wary. This is a big site dedicated to online shopping, and it’s also moderated, so the information you find there is genuine.

8. Make use of your antivirus software – most antivirus software packages will offer safety for online shopping, and this is important. Pop ups on less-reputable sites could infect your computer, and without your knowing could view your credit details when you pay for an item..

If you’re in the market for new software and you’re a keen online shopper, go for one that offers the following:

  • Assessment of a site’s reliability
  • Alerts about possible privacy breaches
  • Protection against spam and phishing scams
  • Misleading advertising and offers

9. Be smart with your deals – finding a great money-off bargain is exciting, but don’t get carried away and click lots of links. You should firstly only use coupons that are from a reliable source (like a long running blog, or a solid reputable directory or a social voting site we mentioned above). If you collect coupons for a while, you will soon identify those reliable source; for me these long have been the following two: FreeShipping.org (my favorite deal! free shipping!) and Promo Codes (US-only). The best kinds of coupons are simply coupon codes, which you copy into a box at the checkout.

10. Last but not least, Google it – if you still can’t work out if a website or a coupon is for real then just Google the name. Type keywords like ‘scam’ or ‘review’ after it to see if anything incriminating comes up. A reputable site should have honest reviews, indicating no problems with privacy.

If you’ve got any smart ways to ensure your safety when you’re shopping online then please let us know. Drop a comment in the box below!

3 Responses to 10 Essential Tips for Online Shopping Safety

  1. You have some really good tips here for keeping your information secure when online shopping. Checking for encryption (the https://)is a really good tip that I have never thought of. You really have to be careful when giving out banking or credit card information online.

  2. The second one is very important.You should also make sure there is a lock icon on the page somewhere.Back in August,I was on a movie site and I ordered a 2 day trial for $3:00 and the site was not very secured.A week later someone charged movies for $56.00 with my information.I went to the bank and they blocked my card and they credited me with the $56.00.That is my story.

  3. I agree with you when you go online to shop make sure that the site is 100% secure. There are many scammers that will do everything you can to get your information.