What should you be aware of when shopping online?

Shopping. Just the word sends a tingle down our spines. The endless possibilities of different things we can buy. From clothes and shoes to bags, gadgets, home décor and home appliances – the list is endless.

How we shop presently has changed. In times past, we could only shop from our local stores in cities or towns were we lived. The option of shopping in other places that were different from our cities or towns mainly happens when we are on vacation.

Shopping Online

This kind of shopping involved leaving our homes or work places, visiting a physical store and buying whatever we need only. This is no longer the sole way available when it comes to shopping.

Presently, you can shop from anywhere. What this means is that with the aid of your smartphone, tablet or personal computer and an internet connection, the world is one big store for you.

Shopping online is the way to go now. The internet has helped to remove borders (which restricted you from buying anything you wanted from anywhere). From the comfort of your home or work place, you can get online, log into your favourite store and buy whatever you want. You are not restricted to just some kind of goods, you could also shop for groceries. Neat, right?

As innovative as shopping online is, it also comes with it’s challenges. You need to be aware of when you are shopping. Today we’re making a list of them.

1. The Security of the website

This is paramount as the risk of falling victim to stolen personal information is high. When you want to make a purchase on any website, you would most likely pay online also. The most common method of online payment is via your credit card. On no account should you put in your credit card details on a site which is not secure. The ways to tell if a site is secure is;

a) The Padlock symbol

What this tells you is the website is a secure one. This symbol will be next the address of the site.

b) Look for the S in the website address

All secure website addresses begin with https://. The S there means secure.

c) The website certificate must be valid

To check this out, click the padlock symbol and every information like registration details, owners of the site, will be displayed. If your get any warning about the validity of the site, refrain from dealing with them.

2. You need to protect yourself

Protecting yourself entails being careful when you’re opening sites and doing transactions. If you have been warned about the validity of the website, don’t send in your personal details. Also make ake sure your anti-virus protection is up to date on your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone.

This is of utmost important because certain websites are designed as a ‘Trojan Horse’. Their real purpose is to import malware or any kind into any electronic device used to access the site. Depending on the kind of malware, you could suffer some devasting consequences like stolen identity, banking details compromise, loss of funds, etc.

3. Use a secure internet connection

We are tempted whenever we hear free Wi-Fi. Using a public Wi-Fi isn’t the best idea because connections like that are unsecure most of the time. Fraudsters are more likely to hack into a public network for nefarious reasons. When you are shopping online avoid public Wi-Fi. Using your Mobile Phone is more secure than some Wi-Fi networks.

4. Make sure sellers are legitimate

This is one of the most important things. It is good to know the website is secure, make your banking details are safe, but all this will mean nothing if the seller is fake.

There are a lot of websites out there offering different products for sale that do not exist. Most times they simply put up pictures of goods which they do not have, customer reviews which are not true as no such customers exist, all in a bid to scam buyers out of their money.

Best reviews guide is a way to protect yourself from not falling a victim to this. Whichever seller you choose to patronise, please read reviews from other people who have had dealings with them before you go ahead.

5. Make sure that your passwords are strong

Some online websites might need you to be a registered member. In this case, ensure the password that you use is strong. Your password should have alphabetical, numerical and special characters. This makes it more difficult for hackers and blocks unauthorised access to your online accounts.

6. Read up on the seller’s return policy

Ever bough a product and it wasn’t what you expected? For most purchases like this, people just send the product back, either get a replacement or refund. When you’re shopping online, make sure that you’ve read the seller’s return policy. Some sellers might even have a ‘ No return policy’. You need to be aware of this before making any purchase on the website.

7. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is

So you want to buy a new gadget or replace your older model. You go on the manufacturer’s website and it costs $1000. While surfing online, you comes across a website which sells it, brand new, for $200.

Your first reaction might be ‘it is my lucky day’. Well, most times it isn’t. Most fake sellers will try to entice you to their websites this way. You would end up losing your money and even worse, your personal information.

Finally, keep this information in mind whenever you want to go online to shop. Remember, there are great sites out there which are legitimate and safe plus you have reviews which would help point you in the right direction when you want to shop online. Make certain to use them.

Watch this space for updates in the Hacks category on Running Wolf’s Rant.


Staff Writer

Running Wolf's Rant's correspondent who chooses to remain anonymous...

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