Things to avoid when making online orders

online shopping
(© Mymemo – stock.adobe.com)

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has experienced unprecedented growth that isn’t expected to slow down soon. The surge led to an increasing number of e-commerce frauds and scams. Online shoppers attract more criminals who are trying to scam them by offering fake deals or discounts.

To shop online safely and end up with bigger savings and better results, take a mindful approach and read about the things that should be avoided while shopping online.

1. Never ignore online reviews

Online reviews on Google, forums like Reddit, and review platforms such as PissedConsumer.com help to make an informed buying decision. If many people are dissatisfied with a particular product or service, it may not suit your needs either. Don’t focus exclusively on positive buyers’ feedback. The lowest-scored reviews often contain the description of serious problems.

You may certainly come across fake reviews since there are plenty of them. Pay attention to red flags for a review including repeated phrases, scripted wording, multiple misspellings, all or no caps, etc. If you see one of these, just move along.

2. Avoid paying with debit

Credit card companies allow clients to dispute charges. They may also withhold payments for a certain period of time required to investigate an issue. Debit cards offer limited fraud protection. It will take you much more time and effort to reverse financial transactions made with debit cards. Be sure to protect your transaction especially if you are unfamiliar with a merchant.

3. Don’t use public Wi-Fi

Making online orders while drinking coffee at your favorite spot is really convenient but insecure. Shopping on public Wi-Fi may jeopardize your sensitive data. Hackers manage to override security even if your information is encrypted.

Cyber security experts suggest using cellular data networks and firewalls with anti-spyware software on your PC or mobile while keeping it updated regularly.

4. Come up with creative password ideas

Using the same passwords for multiple sites is dangerous. The same credentials almost give hackers a key to empty your bank account. Moreover, each time you make an order online, enter your details without saving. Retailers’ databases can also be hacked, and your personal information could be stolen.

Never buy from insecure websites. The URL should start with “https” since such websites mask any data users share. These simple steps can prevent savvy hackers and information thieves.

5. Don’t accept the first deal and shop around

Just like brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce retailers compete for consumer loyalty. They usually offer various discounts, rewards, loyalty programs, cashback, and other goodies. Comparison shopping will help you to get the best deal. You may also visit deals websites or apply coupon and promo codes to score extra savings. But, beware of unrealistically discounted prices. It is a big red flag that you can be scammed.

6. Never ignore the return policy

As seen on review websites such as Pissed Consumer or BBB a lot of complaints describe problems with returns. Online shopping means buying a product without touching or trying it. It happens that the purchase doesn’t match your expectations. Check return policies before buying to discover terms and charges. Nobody wants to find out too late that they can’t return the products that didn’t meet their expectations.

7. Don’t forget to check shipping costs

Shipping costs and terms should never be ignored if you order online. They could be higher than the actual cost of an item. During holidays shipping can be more expensive since a price increase goes into effect. If you have to wait too long and pay too much, you’d rather consider searching online for a free shipping coupon code or in-store pick-up.

In conclusion, e-commerce comes with a number of risks, most importantly identity theft. But, taking basic security measures can help you avoid common online shopping mistakes and get better deals.

Story by Joanna Clark


AFP

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