The online culture worldwide experienced a massive boom when the pandemic hit. There were thousands, if not millions of job retrenchments and t panic when public places were shut down. It was as if a huge set of metal jailhouse bars had dropped out of the sky with a clang. We were all left stranded, with no pubs to go to where we could drown our sorrows. There were no open restaurants to binge eat our depression away, and certainly there was nowhere to practice our retail therapy.
However, in spite of the shut downs and lockdowns, the online industry flourished. Following government rules about deliveries, online companies saw their sales figures skyrocket as people stuck at home turned to the most convenient shopping mall- the internet.
Here are some useful tips to remain safe during your shopping spree online or even if the internet is your alternative source for obtaining much-needed supplies or medicines.
Equipment Needs to Be in Good Working Condition
It may seem trivial, but ensuring that your computer, phone or device you are shopping from works well and has the necessary firewalls in place is vitally important. Protect yourself and ensure your device is free of malware and infections by running the current version of software and apps. This is a starting point for safe and secure online shopping.
Choose Tried and Trusted Shopping Sites
It’s imperative that you choose legitimate e-commerce websites to shop at. Don’t just click a link sent to you by a random person, organization or shop. And then, still do your homework and make sure they are indeed a trustworthy site to be entering to purchase the things you want or need. Scammers can so easily ‘redirect’ you to a bad website where you may end up sharing personal information that will be misused or purchasing goods you might not receive. The best course of action is to research the merchant to see what reviews they have received and also to look for their legitimacy on a site like Trustpilot, Shopper Approved or PowerReviews or search for Best Bonus Canada websites to use. There are several more sites that can help you ascertain the legitimacy of an online merchant you may be considering buying from.
Protect Your Personal Data
It cannot be stressed enough that besides fraudsters gaining access to and misusing your personal data, governments also source personal information for dubious reasons. It is imperative that you refrain from sharing your social security or identity number, your date of birth, full name, address, credit card numbers, etc. If these details are asked for, you should immediately ‘smell a rat’ as the old adage goes, simply because the more information scammers have on you, the easier it is for them to commit identity theft and do even greater damage, such as to access your banking apps and steal ALL your money or use your personal identity to commit a wide range of fraudulent acts, for which you could be held responsible.
Choose Secure Payment Options
Don’t be too hasty to key in your debit card details when buying goods and products online. Paying with a credit card is more secure than a debit card but also carries great risk, even though there are more security measures in place for credit cards than your ATM debit card.
Also, try to use a trusted ‘middleman’ like Paypal or Google Pay, without giving your details directly to the merchant you are purchasing from.
Be Aware of your purchasing behavior
Don’t go crazy clicking on links for deals that appeal to you. Many people lose focus while shopping online, see something they like and just click away. You may be opening the door to phishers and other fraudsters to access not only your information but to target your family and friends’ info too. The best advice is that if you find an offer you cannot resist, don’t just click the link, but navigate to the merchant’s actual page to see if the product indeed exists there.
Keep an Eye on Your Bank and Credit Card Statements
In general it is good practice to remain aware of how your money flows in or out of your account and what you are spending it on, so that you can quickly detect any unwanted or unusual activity.
Change Your Password Often
To keep the fraudsters off your trail, regularly change your passwords by creating long and unique pass phrases for your laptop or computer. MFA (multi-factor authentication) allows you to use strong authentication tools such as biometrics or unique one-time codes for your phone and other mobile devices.
Last but not least of the tips for online shopping is to ensure you are using a secure wifi connection. The wifi at the coffee shop down the road may not be as secure as you think, that is if the coffee shop is open during the pandemic. Either way, those in the know suggest using a VPN (virtual private network) as a hotspot on your phone, if this is your shopping device of choice.