When it comes to online shopping, whether it is books, clothes, gifts, electronics, household items or even food, purchasing online can be intimidating for first timers. Shopping online can be convenient, but it can also be confusing if you’re not familiar with the platform, its policies and presentation of other offers it presents. And, let’s face it, customer support on shopping sites isn’t really all that helpful. So, for all newbies, journeymen and more, here are some online shopping do’s and don’ts.
Online Shopping Do’s – Online Shopping Do’s and Don’ts
- Make sure you’re on the site you intended to shop upon. There are a great many pop-ups, pop-unders and other ads that you may inadvertently wind up at a site without any real idea of how you got there. Check the site address and make sure you are where you intended to be.
- Make sure your connection to the shopping site is secured. If you’re using a browser, there should be a completed lock icon visible in the address bar or you can check the address to make sure it has a secured transfer protocol – https://. If you’re using an app, this can be a little more tenuous. Not all apps do a good job of securing information, let along indicating they are secure to the end user. Instead of relying on the app, use a secured network or encrypt your phone or use the browser app where you can tell if the site is secure.
- Comparative shop. Don’t go to the first shopping site and make the purchase without comparing total cost for the same product on competitive sites. Total cost would include discounts and shipping costs.
- Do read the reviews so you know the quality of the product you’re buying. Yes, reviews can be stuffed to inflate the product’s ratings, so be sure to read both positive and negative reviews before buying something online.
- Know the information you’ll need to provide. This includes the credit card you intent to use and the information on that card, including name on the card, credit card number, expiration date and CVV number. You’ll also need the address associated with the card and shipping address if it is different.
- Be sure to check the refund policy of the shopping site you’re buying from. That way, you’ll know if there is a return fee, deadline or other items you should know about.
- If you receive a confirmation page or an email, always save it or print it for your records.
- Like any online experience, use security software/apps to help protect your system and information from viruses, malware, phishing schemes, etc. Be responsible when shopping online.
- Make sure you are familiar with your size in international sizing charts. Some shopping sites will provide sizing charts that will help understand the actual size you buying because Large size from a company in China may not be the same Large size in the U.S.
Online Shopping Don’ts – Online Shopping Do’s and Don’ts
- Don’t use a public, shared or your work computer. You are dealing with personal and financial information that shouldn’t be exposed in an unsecured environment. Even if you think you’re being careful and deleting all the information, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t footprints left of your information.
- Never share your password or billing details with anyone. Unless you plan on buying products from the online merchant in the future, buy the product as a guest. If the site doesn’t allow guest purchases and you need to create an account, use passwords you haven’t used before and store that within your password vault.
- Check your credit card statements online after you buy the product to make sure the amount you authorized is what has been charged. If there is any suspicious activity or more money is being charged than what was authorized, you can take corrective action immediately, either through the merchant or by disputing the charge with your credit card company.
- Do not provide any online merchant with extraneous personal information unrelated to the actual purchase. Online merchants don’t need your social security number. They don’t need to know your mother’s maiden name or birth date.
- Don’t believe everything you read. That’s not only relevant when shopping but with social media or anything else. Do your research on a product to make sure some of the claims being made have any substance to them. A healthy skepticism is always good.
- When completing the checkout process, don’t use your debit card. That’s coming directly out of your bank account. Use your credit card. That way if anything goes wrong, you can dispute the charge. Better yet, you can use PayPal or some other online payment provider. Sure you have to fund it or tie it to your bank account or credit card but it does offer a level of protection for you. You can also use pre-paid credit cards. Again, you have to fund those and the cost can be excessive.
- When completing the purchase, if the transaction stalls, don’t reload. If the charge was successful and you reload, you may get double charged. Instead wait to determine if the transaction finally processes. If it doesn’t, go back into the cart and start over or contact customer support.
- When entering your email address, don’t use your personal or business email and be sure to uncheck the box that allows the merchant to send you future offers and sell your information to third parties.