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How to Shop Online Safely

Tips on How to Shop Safely Online - What to Look Out For 

Before the Internet, you were pretty much stuck with the selection and prices in the stores around your home. Now, you can shop anywhere and anytime, and have access to the best deals out there, saving you thousands of dollars. Yes, its cool to be in Africa, and shop in America. You can be in Abuja, and buy items from California. Can be in Accra, and shop in the UK. But how safe are you shopping online. Here are a few tips for shopping safely online:

  • Verify the store -  Ensure that its a real store selling real products, and not just an online store. Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious websites that appear to be legitimate or email messages that appear to have been sent from a legitimate source. One way to check this is to see that they have a working phone number. Call the phone number, and be sure to speak to someone. Be wary of stores that just ask you to contact them via email, with no listed phone numbers. Generally we recommend shopping on well known stores e.g Amazon and the likes.
  • Use and maintain anti-virus software on your computer - If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it. Simply buying an anti-virus software such as Norton antivirus or McAfee is all you need, and make sure they are up to date and running well. We wont go into the theory behind this. Just do it. Go out now, get an anti-virus software, install it and ensure its working. We recommend going with anti-virus software packages that also provide firewalls and anti-spyware features. Most have these, so check before selecting one.
  • Leave a limited Amount In Your Visa/Master Cards - Don't leave all your funds on the card you use for online shopping. We recommend loading a disposable card, or better still loading the card for the amount you intend to shop for. This way you use the card fully, and don't have too much of your funds exposed to potential theft.
  • Verify Website Security -  There are also different levels of security that are available online, and you want to be aware of them. Some online web sites don’t offer secure shopping. That means that savy criminals can capture everything that you enter onto a form on those sites, including your personal and credit information. If you’re going to shop online, limit yourself to secure sites. You can tell if a site is secure by the URL (address on your browser). A secure web site starts with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. Secure sites will also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen. Most website address bar will turn green now if they are secure. This is what is known and Extended Validation SSL, and to obtain this, the company is first verified as legitimate before the certificate for this is issued. This is what Shoptomydoor uses, and you will always see a green address bar before we ask for credit card information.
  • Don’t Store Your Credit Card Details On the Site - Many shopping sites, even the major ones, offer you the ability to save your credit card information on their servers to speed the shopping process. Think Amazon.com’s OneClick shopping. It’s definitely faster, but there are some risks to maintaining your personal information elsewhere. If a company that you’re shopping with has a data breach, your personal information could be put at risk. It takes a little longer, but instead of storing your information on some server that you have no control over, just enter it yourself each time you shop. In short, don't store your credit card information on any site when asked to. Simply enter it, make your purchase, without selecting the option to store it.
  • Don’t Shop Publicly   - If you plan to do any shopping online, do it at home, or in your office, and only in a computer you trust is secure. Do not shop in a public computer, such as in an internet cafe, in a school library or any public place where lots of people use the same computer. No matter how safe the site is, just don't shop online publicly. So, just don’t do it. Wait till you are home, change to your pyjamas, put the laptop on your lap, and shop safely.

Now that you have these handy tips and can shop online without any worries of being defrauded, it is important to know some of the safe online shopping sites that you can shop on. some of them are listed below: 

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • BestBuy
  • Etsy
  • Zappos 
  • Overstock
  • Asos
  • Walmart 
  • Macy's 
  • Target

 

Please note that these stores listed above are not the only online stores you can shop safely from, but they are some examples. There are over 80,000 stores in the US alone that you can shop from, but always make sure to follow the tips given to avoid shopping at the wrong one. 

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