How to Stay Safe and Protect Yourself when Shopping Online

Online shopping is a popular way to save time and money, with most major retail chains now offering the option to buy their products online. Unfortunately, there are also many unscrupulous fraudsters looking for ways to con people out of their money. These fraudsters will often set up bogus websites, sometimes mimicking the look and design of a genuine online shopping retailer, in an attempt to con shoppers into giving out their credit card details. Stay safe when shopping online by taking a few simple precautions.

Only buy from reputable sellers

Unless you are buying from a well-known retailer, it’s important to research the company that you are buying from. Check their credentials with official bodies and look for third party seals of approval. You can also use consumer review websites to check for testimonials and customer experience stories.

Use the ratings system

Selling platforms like eBay and Amazon allow private sellers to auction or sell their items. Unfortunately, some of these private sellers may be selling counterfeit goods or engaging in other fraudulent activities. Avoid these sellers by using the customer ratings system to check what other customers have said about them.

Pay attention to the address bar

Unscrupulous scammers often redirect customers to a fraudulent website that looks exactly the same as the genuine site. Make sure that the website address in the address bar is exactly as it should be. Check for typing errors and unfamiliar domain names. Don’t click through to a retail website from an email, as you may be redirected to a bogus site.

Use browser tools

Most popular browsers have optional add-ons, filters and extensions that will warn you of suspicious websites and suspected phishing sites. Some antivirus programs and firewalls also install browser tools to filter search results and block you from visiting suspicious websites. Be sure to activate any optional protection methods offered by your security software.

Check that payment pages are secure

Any web page that asks you to enter personal details, especially your credit card information, should be encrypted to prevent your details from being intercepted by fraudsters. An encrypted web page should have a padlock in the address bar or lower corner of the window.

Shopping online puts you at risk of identity theft and scams, but you can minimize the risks by taking a few simple precautions to protect yourself and your data.

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