With the emergence of smartphones and the accessibility of computers, shopping online has become much more convenient than having to drive to the mall. Millions of websites present endless possibilities of products and services, but can ever site be trusted? Follow these tips to remain protected online while finding the best deals!
Only Purchase From Secure Websites
Purchasing online generally requires the use of a credit card, and like every other occurrence of using your card you want to keep your information as secure as possible.
When making a purchase only use sites that have a padlock/key next to the sites web address or the URL begins with “https”. Both of these represent that the site has a safe and secure communication between the websites server (where your information is sent to), and the web browser you are using to access the site.
If a website looks shady, chances are your gut feeling is correct and you should avoid it. If for some reason you really want or need to use the website, do they accept payments from PayPal? It’s safer to make your purchase through that.
PayPal acts as a “middle man” for the transaction and will be able to send the funds without giving the company more than your address, phone number, and email address. PayPal will also protect you in the case that your order is not shipped, is incorrect, or is damaged.
Read Product Reviews
One of the best things about online shopping is all of the choices we have at our fingertips. When shopping at a physical store shelf space is limited so often time we are not presented with all of the available options.
Use this to your advantage and search for products as well as the reviews that go along with them. Use a popular site such as Amazon to make sure the reviews are unbiased and that there are enough to paint a good picture. Read both extremes and see why people really love something, and why people were dissatisfied.
After reading these you should have an idea if the product will be effective for you. If there are still questions in your mind you may want to explore different brands products to see if they will be a better option.
Start Promotion Hunting
The online shopping space is very competitive and often you can find a better deal than the first place you found what you wanted.
Find 2-5 sites offering what you want and then start comparing them to each other to see which can offer you the best deal. Often sites will offer promotional codes (sometimes listed on the site, and sometimes not) and these will make a huge difference in the overall price.
Use websites such as RetailMeNot to find the best current promotions. You can find anything from free shipping to 50% off your order, and keep in mind these promos are often changing.
See how the promos affect the overall price of your order and choose the site with the lowest total (unless other variables like shipping time, etc.)
If you want to take your savings to the next level you can use the promo codes for your order in conjunction with a cash back program. A popular example of these would be Ebates.com which offers up to 40% cashback on some purchases, and this covers over 1,800 online stores. After signing up you can search to see if the store you want to purchase from offers cashback by using a built in search function. If you find the store you were going to purchase from you simply click it and shop like normal. Generally these programs offer cashback by check or by PayPal.
Don’t Save Credit Card Information
If planning to shop at an online store more than once it is very convenient to save your credit card information so you don’t have to insert it next time around but this is not recommended. Often this stored information is a high priority for website hackers and the weakest link of a site. Uncheck the auto-save box and save the hassle of having to file claims and reports in the instance your information is stolen and used.
Always Save Your Receipt
Often times an electronic receipt will be sent to your email after a purchase but don’t always count on this. Be sure to print and file your receipt to be able to retrieve if you have any issues down the road. There are also electronic tools that will help you save receipts, and these can often be even better because its easier to sort the information and retrieve what you need.