How To Avoid Scams While Shopping Online
Did you know that online shopping is one of the fastest growing industries today?
The below timeline displays a forecast of the number of digital buyers worldwide from 2014 to 2021. In 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online, up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers in 2016.
Taken from https://www.statista.com
The below statistic depicts the share of online shoppers in New Zealand in 2006 and 2016 with a forecast for 2026. In 2026, it is projected that around 83 percent of New Zealanders shop online.
Taken from https://www.statista.com
So, a lot of people globally and in New Zealand learn to shop online. The trend is the same as we saw in our world history. People moved from horses to trains and from trains to jets. Today people quickly discover amazing benefits of shopping online. Better deals, heaps more options to choose and you can complete all transactions in the comfort of your home.
Of course, like with everything else in life, with all benefits come challenges.
There are a lot of scammers who take advantage of this rapidly growing trend of online shopping.
Does this mean it’s not wise to shop online? Not at all! It’s about learning how to read the safety signs and recognize hidden traps. No, you don’t need to be an IT professor to be able to learn it.
So here are some simple tips how to safeguard your online shopping experience.
Every website owner should take responsibility for ensuring the safety of its visitors, but unfortunately, some websites just aren’t secure. An unsafe website can spread malware, steal your information, send spam, and more. To protect yourself and your personal information, it’s important to know that a website takes your safety seriously – but how can you tell?
Look for these 7 signs that show that a website is safe.
Check for the "s"
When on a website where you're giving your personal info, look for the "s" after the "http." In other words, it should be "https://" This "s" means your personal information is more secure than on sites that don't have it. The "s" refers to the secure socket layer and that communication between your browser and the website is encrypted.
Verify their trust seal
If you see an icon with the words “Secure” or “Verified,” it’s likely a trust seal. A trust seal indicates that the website works with a security partner. These seals are often an indicator that a site has HTTPS security, but they can also indicate other safety features, like the date since the site’s last malware scan.
Although 79 percent of online shoppers expect to see a trust seal, the presence of the seal isn’t enough. It’s also important to verify that the badge is legitimate. Fortunately, it’s easy to do – simply click the badge and see if it takes you to a verification page. This confirms that the site is working with that particular security firm. It doesn’t hurt to do your own research on the company supplying the badge, too!
Look for online reviews
While reviews can be faked, if a business is bad or even a scam, you should be able to find bad reviews about it. Check major review sites, which offer reviews of even online businesses. Check to make sure people aren't saying the business is bad or is a scam.
Social media check
Post the name of the online business on your account, for instance, and ask your friends if anyone knows anything about the company. Find their Facebook page and see what people are saying.
Check for a physical address
Even online businesses should have physical addresses. If the website you are looking at doesn't appear to have a physical address or contact information at all, that's suspicious. You should be able to contact the business in case of trouble.
Check for professionalism
While a professional-looking website does not mean it's legitimate, a very unprofessional website is a sign it could be a scam. Look for spelling mistakes, loading errors, and poor-quality pictures. If you notice these signs, you may want to investigate further or not use that company at all.
Some very wise steps you can take to further safeguard yourself.
Avoid sites with a lot of pop-up ads
Legitimate business generally avoid placing pop-up ads that open new tabs or windows without your permission on their websites. This is because such ads drive away business and make their websites seem unprofessional. If you come across a website with this type of ad, don't input any personal information or buy anything. And don't click on the pop-up ads; just close them as quickly as possible.
Use a credit card
Credit cards offer more protections than if you use your bank account or debit card. Therefore, if you make a purchase with your credit card and the company is fraudulent, you may have an easier time getting your money back or cutting the card off.
Use a payment mediator
Another option is using a payment mediator instead, such as PayPal. These services are designed to protect your information from those who may want to steal it. PayPal accounts are free to setup and use if you are using them to buy goods online (the company only charges fees to sellers and international money transfers).
Verify the business
As mentioned earlier, generally all trustworthy businesses would provide their address and/or contact details on their website. If you are not sure about reading the above trust signs it would pay to dial that number and have a chat with that someone on the other end. In many cases it would give you some indication whether it’s safe to buy on that online store or not.
I hope this blog is helpful and you have found some practical insights. If you know of other online store safety signs, drop me a line or two on firstname.lastname@example.org