The gift of online shopping
Christmas shopping is often a nightmare that can very easily take away from the joy of the festive season. Whether you are struggling to memorize a shopping list, fighting for that last can of cranberry sauce or hauling tons of stuff from your car, it can be a real struggle. That is why the world of technology gave parents all over the world what is possibly the best Christmas gift of them all: online shopping.
According to a 2016 survey, 41 % of the study group did most of their Christmas shopping online. The numbers have no doubt gone up since then. These platforms make life so much easier allowing you to truly spend time with your family and enjoy the holiday. There is also the awesome fact that you get everything you need under one roof; so to speak. No more running from store to store looking for groceries, electronics, and toys that are never stocked together.
Sites preying on Christmas shoppers
Unfortunately, it isn’t all fun and add-to-cart games when it comes to online shopping. There is a shocking number of scam websites out there just waiting to con you out of your hard earned money. The worst part is that they put on such a great face you just never see it coming. It isn’t until you receive your package (or you don’t) that you realize that you were duped.
To help you avoid falling into these online shopping traps, here is a comprehensive guide with information on how to avoid the most common online scams. That way you can find the perfect site to do your stress-free shopping from.
How to protect yourself
1. Shop only on known sites
There are very many online shopping sites on the internet today. They come in all forms including one-stop sites, niche platforms and even drop-box options. While it is always a nice gesture to support up and coming businesses, it bears more risks that it is worth. It is therefore always best to go with the old tried and tested sites that you know for sure are genuine. Their high profile nature also means that they have a name and reputation to protect. They are therefore less likely to scam you or give anything less than value for your money.
2. Do some research on the site
If what you want can only be found on those niche websites that no one has ever heard of then you need to do your homework. There are plenty of independent website reviewers on the internet that will give you an idea of what to expect from these incognito sites. You could also get an idea from customer feedback on their pages. However, the latter method is not the most reliable as you can never really be sure how genuine those remarks are.
3. Do not give away any sensitive information
If a website you are shopping from requests sensitive information like ID numbers, social security information and even card pins then you need to start running. There is a huge possibility of the information provided being used in identity theft. For the most part, your email, address and general credit/debit card information are all that a genuine website will ask for. There are also some that just need contact details and an address with payments being made on delivery.
4. Read the fine print
When it comes to things like warranty, return offers and refunds you should never assume that the site is fully on your side. It is never as simple as not liking a product and sending back even when their ads market it this way. There are numerous terms and conditions with a plethora of loopholes that might just work against you. So before you get seduced by the idea of a 100% refund guarantee you had better check to confirm that there are no strings attached.
5. Pay attention to reviews on the site
Sometimes the platform is not at fault when it comes to the scamming. This is the case with major sites like Amazon, eBay, and the likes. It could be that the site is advertising a genuine product but what the manufacturers are providing does not meet the standards. The best way to avoid these subtle scams is by going through reviews on the item you are interested in.
6. Be careful about accepting cookies and other policies
Cookies are important when it comes to ensuring smooth running of a website on your device. However, there are some sites that use these as a way to feed malware to your device. Most computer antivirus software packages will detect these fake links and warn you. If you get an alert you should not only deny the cookie request but also get yourself off that page. No business that is feeding you malware is selling you good items.
7. If the prices seem too good to be true; run
With all the Christmas shopping you have to do you probably want to save as much money as possible. Discounts seem like the light at the end of the tunnel that we can’t help but be drawn to. In fact, it is estimated that up to 73.3% of people who shop online describe discounts and offers as the key determining factor for holiday purchases.
However, this pursuit to spare that extra cent could cost you more than you can imagine. Some sites set inexplicably low prices to lure in clients only to spring up hidden costs or deliver shady items. Whatever the outcome, there is no denying the fact that after all is said and done a suspicious bargain is never worth it.
8. Credit cards are always better than debit cards
Credit cards are a great way to pay for your online shopping as they often feature anti-fraud protection designs. This makes it less likely for someone to give the information you offered to steal your identity and go on a shopping spree at your expense. Not many debit cards have this provision.
9. Turn on the safety features on your browser
These help to alert you when the website you are about to browse has been flagged for being unsafe. As with the fishy cookies, the reasoning is that any shopping website with a malware-ridden platform is not to be trusted. So as soon as your browser warns you to proceed with caution you should back up and try a new site.
10. Use protective software
These help to make sure you don’t get tracked and that don’t get spied on by someone stealing your information on these sites. More often than not a basic all-cover antivirus will do the job. However, you could look into getting special protective packages geared specifically at helping you protect yourself while online.
You might also enjoy reading: Trusted and Safe Websites for Holiday Shopping