Online Shopping – The Risks, Benefits, and How to Stay Safe


 

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The following is a guest post. Enjoy! 

Online Shopping – The Risks, Benefits, and How to Stay Safe

Online Shopping Statistics

Online shopping has been the retailing revolution of the 21st century and is still increasing in popularity. Statistics produced by Forrester Research Inc. suggest that 60% of consumers shop online at least quarterly.

By 2015, over 200 million consumers will shop online, according to eMarketer. The increase is due to the many benefits of online shopping, although according to statistics from the Lieberman Research Group, 51% of users are concerned about internet security.

How to Stay Safe While Shopping Online

There are many ways to reduce the risks of shopping online and staying safe in the process. There are many advantages to purchasing online, including convenience, speed, pricing and access to the best financial products available.

For instance, there are numerous sites that will give honest reviews on a range of consumer products.

Gone are the days when consumers had to fit in a trip to the shops or carry home heavy shopping. With a click of the mouse, you can have any product delivered from anywhere in the world. And, a lot of the time, the products purchased online will be cheaper than those in local stores!

Types of Scams to Watch Out For

This quick and easy process has also unfortunately encouraged fraudsters to use the internet for their criminal activities. Many different types of scams are used by these individuals.

A frequent scam is to set up a web store offering designer goods at seemingly bargain prices. The consumer, hoping for a good price, may be tempted to purchase from here. By purchasing from this store, the consumer will, in essence, hand his or her financial information to the criminals behind it. Within moments, the consumer’s bank account will be cleared of funds by the criminals.


How to Evade These Scams

There are many ways to avoid falling victim to this trap. Firstly, only purchase from stores that appear reputable. Check online to see if any comments have been made about the store to verify its authenticity. Always keep updated with the latest version of your browser as it may contain an Extended Validation SSL Certificate. This technology will turn the address bar green to show you are visiting a secure site. Then, look at the URL address bar when you begin your purchase. A secure site will begin with the letters HTTPS, rather than just HTTP and may also show a locked padlock icon.

Always pay with a credit card rather than a debit card, so that if information is obtained by criminals, they will only be able to spend the credit card limit. Whereas with a debit card, criminals can access your bank account too and cause greater damage. Both banks and credit card providers are constantly alert for signs of fraud.

Due to monitoring accounts to check for suspicious activity, do not be surprised if you are asked for the three or four card digit on the back of your card. The reasoning is that criminals may possess your name and the card number but they are unlikely to have the card in front of them, so will not be able to answer this question.

Always create difficult-to-guess passwords, so do not include family names or dates of birth. Use a different password for each site you visit and combine letters and numbers to make it harder to crack.

Finally, trust your instincts. If something does not feel right, shut the site down immediately. Purchasing online is easy and convenient, and with these hints, you can be safe too.

How about you all? How do you protect your security online? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

  • @ Statistic showing 60% of shoppers shop online each quarter – I’m surprised this isn’t more! I probably shop online (especially Amazon – which is the most buyer friendler out of the Amazon/eBay pair) more than shopping at a brick-and-mortar mall.
  • @ Secure sites beginning with HTTPS:// – I actually didn’t know this was what https stood for! You learn something new every day. I’ll know to watch out for this going forward.
  • How I Stay Safe Shopping Online – This is a great article over a topic which I think is relevant to us all. The main way that I stay safe online is to always use either 1) PayPal or 2) my credit card for online purchases (not my debit card, bank account direct transfer, or Western Union). Both PayPal and your credit card enable you to dispute any fraudulent charges and get your money back if you feel you’ve been scammed. By doing this, I feel pretty comfortable purchasing things online!

***Photo courtesy of http://s0.geograph.org.uk/photos/22/99/229953_59d4b5e6.jpg

Comments

  1. I do not buy a lot online, but I stick with the reputable sites. I use Google shopping or Shopzilla to find products at a good price. You can check the reputation of the site in a matter of a couple clicks. I have saved a lot by shopping online.
    My recent post Real-time Ridesharing Is Here

    • I'll have to check Google Shopping and Shopzilla out! I have to sadly admit that I've never heard of those. Do you find that the prices you find by using those sites are less than eBay/Amazon? That's where I do most of my buying online.
      My recent post Tour de Personal Finance, Stage 3, Posts 27-30

  2. I love online shopping, it has saved me a boatload of money!
    My recent post Do You Know What’s In Your Wallet?

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