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Tips for Shopping Online Safely and Securely

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Shopping is an enjoyable activity, especially done from the comfort of your own home. The online shopping industry continues to grow each year, with Americans aged 65 and older purchasing an average of $187 per month. However, not all shopping experiences have a happy ending. Some buyers report receiving counterfeits, orders never arriving, or worse, having their credit card details stolen and misused.

With many new online stores popping up all over the Internet, it’s important to stay in the safe zone. If you are planning to shop, follow these tips for shopping online safely and securely to ensure that your purchase is not a scam.

Shop at a Trusted Site

Using search engines for a particular keyword is a double-edged sword. While cheaper prices can be tempting, buying from a new, untrusted website may come with unwanted consequences. A better option would be to visit a major retail outlet that sells the product you are looking for. Large consumer sites such as Amazon, Target, and Home Depot have verified pages for known brands. If you want to support small businesses, consider shopping the site of someone you know or looking at online reviews. If a business has 100+ 5-star reviews from people who have used or bought their product, especially if they share photos or videos of their experience, you’re more likely to be in the safe zone.

Take a Closer Look

Be sure to check your spelling and use of top-level domains. Some of these websites might look like the original, but that’s how they trick users into giving up their private information. When in doubt, try to find the lock icon located on the website’s search bar. This means the website has SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which has secure encryption. In layman’s terms, this means they have a certificate on their website that helps protect their users from identity theft and other concerns. HTTPS, or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, is now a standard for every website. Your favorite shopping site should have this for an extra layer of security. If the site isn’t secure, do not give out your personal information.

Never Overshare Your Personal Information

Some things are meant to be kept private, such as your full name, social security number, birth date, and credit card details. When a form asks for too much personal data, turn away. Many sites get breached, so you want to make sure your important information is as safe as possible. If you do give out your credit card information, make sure it’s to a site you trust.

Create a Strong Password

It’s easy to choose a password that you could quickly remember, such as your birthday, anniversary, or just the word “password,” which is surprisingly widely used all over the world. But this will also put your personal account at risk. It’s better to use a password that cannot be easily cracked. It should be something that isn’t directly associated with you. Avoid using your spouse’s, children’s, or pet’s names, as these can be harvested from your social media accounts. If you’d like help, Google has a password manager that can create and remember passwords for you. You can also try this free password generator tool from LastPass.

Think Before You Click

The internet is swarming with many attractive advertisements, but some of these come with malware if you mistakenly click on them. They could even send things straight to your email, posing as your bank. When a message seems too good or too odd to be true, consult an expert before moving forward.

Protect Your Devices

Get regular updates for your computer’s antivirus and firewall programs. If you want someone to assist you, ask them to add spam and ad-blocking plugins for your browser. While this may not completely clear out scams, this will help filter out suspicious websites.

Beware of Using Public Wi-Fi

The best things in life are free, but a free Wi-Fi connection isn’t exactly phish-free. In fact, logging into personal accounts using public hotspots opens you to many risks, including getting your personal details snatched. It’s best to stick to private, trusted networks, especially when accessing important websites like your bank. Avoid online shopping in public, too, especially in cases when you are required to enter your credit card details.

Instead of Websites, Use the App

If you want to browse your favorite online retailer, use their app. These are a much more secure way to shop compared to accessing the stores through regular browsers. In addition to these apps providing better visual features, there are instances when stores offer vouchers and coupons that will help you save money!

When in Doubt, Read the Reviews

It’s always great to check out a new shop or product, but just like everything else, knowing a bit more about it will give you confidence in your purchase. Do a background check on the seller and read the reviews. Make sure they are trustworthy, ship on time, and deliver a legitimate product instead of a scam. Search the Better Business Bureau and see if the seller’s name is listed in its directory. You can also check Google for reviews. If nothing is available, you might want to move on to another seller whom you trust.

Should You Experience a Scam, Do Not Hesitate to Report It

If you are given the wrong product, or if it has arrived damaged, report it to the seller. Purchases are typically covered by a limited-time warranty, and they are subject to full replacement. However, if there is no response and it proves to be a scam, escalate it to a higher level of authority. You can report this incident to the Federal Trade Commission. Make sure to leave an open, honest review, so others won’t have the same experience.

The Best Way to Shop Online is To Do It Safely

While modern-day scammers make online shopping a little risky, following these tips will help you enjoy a safe and secure online shopping experience. By sticking to secure, verified sites, you can purchase all your favorite items from the comfort of your couch or desk chair without worry.

Here at Meadow Lakes, retirement living is meant to be spectacular. With a picture-perfect backdrop combined with wellness amenities, you can continue to live joyfully and independently. We’d love to hear from you. Contact us through our website and we’ll schedule a tour for you and your loved ones.

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