How to Stay Safe While Shopping Online

DigiLearn has its roots in an evening of holiday shopping done from the couch! It was in helping a neighbour navigate the virtual shopping space that our founder identified the need for education and support for seniors.

Shopping online can be fun. And it really is convenient.

We look online for reviews, for models, and for options, for things we can find at local stores, for handmade artisanal gifts , and for the international options we can only find online.

The online purchase process is easy, fast, and can give consumers perks, like access to great “online only” deals or shops that aren’t nearby. But, there are many safety risks that come with online shopping, so it’s important to know what to look for to protect yourself while shopping on the internet.

By being aware of the types of problems that can arise with online shopping, you can be sure that you (and your bank account) stay safe.

  • Most importantly, it’s lucrative to know that the site you’re shopping on is a reputable website. You should read reviews to see if other consumers have had positive or negative experiences with the site, looking for possible ways the website could be a scam. Have consumers received their purchases in the promised timeframe? Have additional charges been made to their credit cards that were not theirs? What is the return policy and has it been honored in the past?
  • While it’s nice to sign up for email promotions from your favorite sites to stay in the know about sales and even receive special coupon codes, try to avoid clicking links embedded into emails. Although this is not always the case, cybercriminals try to steal your personal information when you click these links via email. Instead, re-type the URL into the web browser yourself to find the deals and use the coupon codes from there.
  • We all love convenience, and online shopping is most definitely that. But, don’t save your password or credit card information to websites. Yes, it’s convenient to be automatically logged in to your personal account when you head to your favorite shops online, and it’s easy to be provoked into making your checkout experience quicker by saving your credit card number to your account. But instead, take the extra time to enter this information each time you complete a purchase on the web. This minimizes your chances as a consumer for your information to be stolen from your favorite sites.
  • Check to be sure the website it secure. When you type the store website into your web browser and it loads, a padlock symbol and the word “Secure” should appear next to your web browser. If this doesn’t happen, research the site further, or simply avoid shopping here. Websites that begin with “http” are often not secure. Instead, use sites that start with “https” as the “s” stands for “secure”. When website aren’t secure, they are often scams, or don’t have enough protection to keep cybercriminals from hacking in and stealing your personal information. A second place to look for this lock symbol is on the checkout page. Oftentimes, secure websites have a security logo pasted onto the checkout page to reassure consumers their website is legitimate before they enter in all of their personal information.
  • Lastly, shop from your personal devices on your personal Wi-Fi. While mobile devices, laptops, tablets, and even public computers paired with Wi-Fi have made it convenient to do almost anything online from nearly anywhere in the world, make sure you’re shopping from a secure spot. Avoid using public Wi-Fi or hotspots (airports, hotels, restaurants, stores) as you never know if you’re information is being tracked and logged from these free public spots. Instead, wait until you’re back home and shop from your own devices and Wi-Fi to better ensure a safe online shopping experience.

Shopping online has quickly become the way of the world. In 2016, almost 80% of Americans said that they use online stores to shop rather than going to real brick-and-mortar stores. And, on Black Friday alone in 2017, more than 5 billion dollars was spent online in just 24 hours.

It may seem like we’re avoiding crowds by doing our holiday shopping from the couch, but it really is a busy space virtually. You’re not getting elbowed in a mad crush at the store, but online shopping has its own pitfalls to be aware of.

By taking precautions, you can continue to enjoy the conveniences of online shopping technology with peace of mind.

We mentioned making sure the site your shopping from is a reputable one. Give us your review — what websites have you enjoyed shopping online from?

GetDigiLearn

Technology Coaching Group for Seniors and Adults

DigiLearn

Written by

DigiLearn

Helping adults and seniors expand their technology skills. We share stories and information on how seniors are coming into their own in the world of technology.

GetDigiLearn

Technology Coaching Group for Seniors and Adults

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