Credit fraud is one of the biggest concerns in the age of online shopping. An estimated loss of $712.4 billion was reported in 2020 due to identity theft. This is a 42 percent increase from 2019’s $502.5 billion loss. Experts cited the high rate of unemployment during the pandemic as the cause of such an increase.
However, it’s undeniable that online shopping makes things much more convenient for us. We can buy anything off the internet and have it delivered to our doorstep. Still, you need to understand the importance of protecting your money and identity online.
Here’s a quick guide on how not to lose money while shopping online.
Shopping on High-Ranked Online Stores
To protect your money, you should only transact with trusted online shops. You’re far less likely to have your identity stolen if you shop with high-ranking sites that have been tried and tested by hundreds of people. On the contrary, shopping with new or shady websites can make you more susceptible to identity theft.
Online shops that appear within the first page of Google are usually ones with a high website ranking. Search engine algorithms can determine if a website is trustworthy enough. You can also use Better Business Bureau’s online directory to search if the online shop you’re visiting is legitimate. They also have a scam tracker for a list of known scammers.
Check the Reviews Before Shopping
You’re already probably aware that it’s important to check the reviews first before clicking the checkout button on any online shop. Other people’s thoughts about the product can give you a better and more realistic expectation of what the product actually is. This will prevent you from purchasing things that have cheap quality.
But you also need to be aware of the false positive reviews that are designed to encourage people to buy. You should check both the positive and negative reviews before purchasing the product.
Use Spokeo to Protect Yourself
While being vigilant is important, you should also consider adding another layer of security for your online purchases. If you’ve bought something off Craigslist and you want to return it but they’ve blocked your number, you can use Spokeo, a phone lookup website, to locate their address so that you can refund your purchase.
You can also check someone’s identity before making a purchase, which is a better way to prevent any type of fraud related to online purchases. Spokeo won’t notify anyone if you search people via their website. You can contact them via the information that you’ll get through a Spokeo report when searching someone’s phone number, email address, or residential address.
Never Make Full Prepayments
Sometimes, you just find a good deal from a website that doesn’t rank high on Google. Maybe you’ve seen their ads on your social media account or a friend recommended them to you. While there are indeed small online shops that are legitimate, you still need to be careful.
One way to protect your money is by never making full prepayments of the purchase. There are online stores that offer pay on delivery services that allow any customer to pay for the item only when it has been delivered to their homes.
If you’re unsure of the website’s legitimacy, but you badly want to buy a certain product from them, it’s safer to opt for payment on delivery terms that can protect you. Legitimate online shops have no problem with this method since it protects their customers while also improving customer trust.
Don’t Share Personal Data
You should always be careful with your personal data online, especially your payment information as well as passwords. This information can help cyber criminals gather your information and open a new credit account under your name.
You should only use secure websites when entering personal information. You can easily check this on the browser you’re using. On the address bar, there should be a padlock symbol before the URL. The address should also start with “HTTPS://” as a sign that the website you’re visiting has the proper security certificates to protect you.
If the padlock on the address bar shows any type of warning, you should leave the site immediately. This often means that the site can be accessed by a third party, which can make it vulnerable to hacking.
Being safe online has never been more important in the modern age of the internet. While there are government organizations where you can report scams or identity theft, it’s better to prevent these things from happening to you.