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Online shopping can be a minefield fraught with data breaches and stolen payment information. But with a little know-how, you can shop safely and securely on the Internet. We broke down some of the best ways to protect yourself (and your wallet!), so you can make stress-free purchases.
Look out for these key signs when deciding if a site is safe to shop online:
When a website’s URL starts with “https”, that means that it has an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification – a fancy way of saying that the site is encrypted so your private information, like credit card number and address, can’t be stolen.
To manually check for a website’s SSL certificate, click the padlock icon that appears before the website URL, then click “certificate” from the dropdown menu that appears. If you do not see a padlock icon or if the certificate is not valid, that website is likely unsecure.
Avoid websites that start with “http” or any other code.
Ebay and Etsy can be great resources for tracking down handmade designs or hard-to-find products. However, you’ll be dealing with an individual seller, rather than a retailer, so take a few extra precautions when shopping on marketplaces like these.
Here are a few safety factors to keep in mind.
Sometimes even the most reputable retailers make mistakes on orders or send damaged items. Here are a few steps to take if this happens to you.
Before making a purchase, double check that you’re getting the best deal possible. Particularly during the pandemic, when essential items have been marked up, it’s important to dig a little deeper before hitting “buy.” There’s a good chance you may be able to find the product you’re interested in on multiple sites — and at multiple price points.
Doing a little research can go a long way when it comes to scoring deals. Some stores offer a price match guarantee, so you can buy your item for a lower price if you show them proof that it’s available for cheaper elsewhere.
Unfortunately, some retailers have taken advantage of the pandemic to mark up essential items. In April, Amazon suspended more than 6,000 accounts for violating its fair-pricing policies.
So, how do you stay safe from price gouging?
With proper precautions, online shopping can be fun, productive experience. Take your time before taking the leap and making a purchase. A little research goes a long way in keeping you safe and secure, and happy with your purchases.
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