Online shopping was established as a hallmark of the 21st century, when a 2017 Statistica report showed that 1.66 billion consumers spent a staggering $2.3 billion for online purchases. That is why during this period of an ongoing infectious disease crisis, many are already adept in buying the things they need from online stores.
While shutting down brick and mortar outlets of nonessential businesses drove consumers to online stores, those who are new to this approach should have awareness that there are pitfalls to avoid. Now more than ever, scammers, hackers and identity thieves will have developed improved and sophisticated methods of defrauding consumers.
Important Guides to Consider When Purchasing Online
First off, be in the know that most technology-based operations such as Support Team, Website Administration and Payment Processing are currently functioning via skeletal work-from-home crews. That being true in most cases, expect that there will be delays in responding, processing and/or delivery of request for orders.
The potential time lapses though, could also present opportunities for cyber criminals and hackers in carrying out schemes to breach data and in tracking online activities.
Be extra careful when responding to emails suggesting problems related to your account. Keep in mind that communicating any problem can only be done by way of a secured site, which makes it important for you to log in so you can follow the correct verification protocols.
Such conditions also underscore the importance of making sure that online purchases are transacted only with secure sites. Although the popularity of an online store is not a guarantee to making a secure purchase, there are certain security features to checkout before proceeding with an online transaction.
1. Make sure the URL includes “https” and a padlock symbol as those denote that the website has been enhanced with security features.
2. Scrutinize the spelling of the domain name appearing in the URL to make sure you will not be transacting business with a copycat website. Scammers use emails with copycat links for this technique, not only to defraud Internet denizens but also to steal personal information.
3. When registering as member of a website wishing to sell you a product, you do not have to give personal information (e.g. social security number) other than those needed to complete the transaction. As much as possible, buy C.O.D. or use an online payments processor like Paypal or Payoneer in making payments. That way you can avoid giving information related to your credit card or bank account information.
4. Don’t be swayed by too-good-to-be-true offers, especially in times like these when most businesses are needing income in order to survive. The most that businesses can offer at the moment, are reward points that buyers can accumulate and use in claiming discount or a special item. Some others may offer price discounts by way of coupons.
5. Always check the completeness, legitimacy and accuracy of an online seller’s “Contact Us” information. Be wary of those who provide only phone numbers and email addresses or with addresses in some unreachable or unverifiable locations. As much as possible, transact only with those you have verified as having legitimate headquarters or maintaining branches in your country or region.
6. Check the online store’s return policy, shipping costs and offers of warranty, by carefully reading the Terms and Conditions Be wary of those that present T and C’s in fine print as this is usually a way of hiding or preventing scrutiny over one-sided conditions.
7. Since there won’t be any physical stores to visit as a means of checking out the actual features, materials, fit or size of an item, read reviews to find out what previous buyers are saying about the item and about the after-sales services of the online store.
Read this perfect guide as it serves an example of a product buying guide when looking to buy high-end and branded specialty products.