Protecting Yourself While Shopping Online
Online shopping has become a norm for most people, especially during the ongoing pandemic. Even without the fears of going to the shops during a pandemic, online shipping is just easier and more convenient than physical stores, not to mention the fact of being able to shop for the best price.
With the surge of online shopping have come a whole new world of scams attempting to free us from our money while supplying nothing in turn. So how do we battle these scams and know when an online shop is legit or not? In the below, we discuss a great few tactics to confirm the validity of any online store.
It's been said before, and it's worth saying again, when buying from an online shop that you are not familiar with, reviews will be your best friend. Taking the time to do a simple google search on the shop's name will reveal a lot of previous customer interactions and potential complaints. Websites like hellopeter will be a great resource to find the legitimacy of a store. Even potential complaints on Facebook will help lead you in the right direction.
When looking at the URL in a browser, on the left-hand side of the URL will be a little picture of a padlock, either this lock will be open or closed. This is a simple security tool to know the security level of the website you are visiting.
- Locked - If the padlock icon is in the locked position, the website is safe. This is not to say the website is definitely not a scam, but your data is safe with the website.
- Unlocked - If the padlock is in the unlocked position, do not use the website further. There is a fair chance that the website is compromised and will steal information, particularly for a shopping website, your banking information.
The trusted system is not a complete system to ensure that the website is not a scam, but it is a good way to know if you risk your personal details being compromised.
Scrutinize The Company
In the event that a website is potentially too new to have a good number of reviews built up, it's good practice to have a look into the company behind the website. There are a few key elements that everybody will be able to confirm.
- Location - Online stores will often list their physical location so that you can know where the package is being shipped from. It's generally a good idea to look closer into this location to see if they are actually there. If a business park, check out their website to see information on tenants. If it is a free standing business, call the business next door to confirm if the said company is actually operating there.
- Phone numbers - While it is not universal, a business whose main contact details are a cellphone number is a definite red flag. Even casinos online like slotscanada.net have proper contact details posted, proving they’re reliable.
- Email address - Check the email address of the business. Established businesses who are selling products online almost always have their own company email. Seeing a business of this nature operating on a “@gmail” or “@hotmail” account should warrant concern about the legitimacy of the business.
While these are not definite ways to tell, they should act as guides. A business may operate in a good manner with a cellphone number and on a Gmail account, but it is definitely worth proceeding with extreme caution.