Most of us just love to shop but there are those who look at it as a bore rather than a delight. And with the holidays almost upon us, shopping is a chore (imagine the crowd in the mall, the lines you have to endure, the traffic you have to navigate through and the contest for a good parking space) that everybody will face within the next few weeks. Good thing there is online shopping. Nowadays it has become more popular than the conventional way because it is very convenient and can be a pleasant experience. You can shop in your slippers and robe at any time of the day or night. Just keep in mind to follow these guidelines to make your online experience safe, secure, and satisfying.
Shop with reputable companies. Choose a retailer you have already patronized satisfactorily. Let’s say you are looking for some awesome housewarming gifts, if the item you want is sold by an unfamiliar retailer, check their website and make sure that they have a telephone number and a physical address listed. Look for feedbacks. There are also lots of resources in the internet like customer reviews, to check out the reputation of the online retailer particularly if you are purchasing from them for the first time.
Site Security. Before you provide any personal information, make sure the site is secure. Look out for 2 things:
- The address of the secure page will begin with “https” instead of “http” (the extra “s” stands for “secure’);
- A yellow padlock or an unbroken key somewhere on the page. Click on the lock to see the details of the site’s security. This is particularly important because some fraudulent web sites place a picture of a lock on their webpage to imitate a secure site.
Refund and Return Policies. Even for well-known businesses, it is a must to read their refund and return policies. Some online retailers will let you return items for any reason, others let you return them only if the item is incorrect or defective. Some will pay return postage if the item arrives damaged, others will not.
Purchase Payment. Do NOT use a debit card as the money is pulled right from your bank account and there is no guarantee you will be able to take your money back out of a fraudulent transaction or if you do, it can take months. Use a credit card instead, the Fair Credit Billing Act will protect your transaction and you can handle any disputes through the credit card company.
Keep Records. Always keep good records. Print your order and record any confirmation numbers. Read the retailer’s confirmation of your transaction and be sure that the order was processed just as you intended. Promptly check your credit card statements after every transaction to make sure that there were no billing errors.
Keep Your PC Safe. Ensure that you have the latest operating system and web browser updates with an updated good antivirus software. Shop from home where you have a secure Internet connection.