Is It Safe to Shop Online?

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked this, I’d be able to do a lot more shopping online. The short answer is, “Yes.”

Possibly the two largest shopping sites online are Amazon.com and eBay.com. It may be hard to believe that Amazon has been around since 1994, and eBay since 1995. That’s important because you need to know that after more than 20 years online, e-commerce or online shopping has had time to get all the kinks worked out.

safe to shop online

However, if the short answer is, “Yes”, what’s the long answer?

It is as safe to shop online as it is to shop downtown. Similar safety rules apply.

Keep your money and your credit cards in your wallet. Don’t leave them lying about.
For the computer, that means not storing your bank account password or your credit card number and security code on the computer. It also means that if a site asks if you want them to save your credit card info, you should always say, “No.”

Having them save it is convenient for you, but also too convenient for them to abuse or criminals to get. Remember all that customer information that Target and Home Depot had stolen last year?

Shop at stores that you trust.

You already know that eBay and Amazon are legitimate. You also already know that many of your favourite stores in the real-world also have online shopping. Those retailers you can trust as much as if you walked into their store.

There are smaller online sites with names that you haven’t heard before. Use your best judgement. Do a Google search on their name to see what their reputation is like, if you’re not sure.

If you still don’t feel safe with them, just don’t buy from them. Too easy.

Get insurance.
Most online shopping is done with credit cards. Call your bank and make sure your credit card offers protection against credit card theft, loss, or unauthorized use. Some cards also have purchase insurance, or extended warranty for items bought with the card.

Shop in a safe place.
There are certain parts of some towns where you won’t go shopping. That’s common sense. But, how do you know that online? Look in the address bar of your web browser. Does the address of the page that is asking for your credit card start with https? The ‘s’ is the important part. That means they are going to protect your information as it travels from your computer to theirs.

Follow those guidelines and you can enjoy the convenience of online shopping as much as going to the mall.

First Published: The Guysborough Journal, Vol . 21, No. 22, June 3, 2015

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