Online shopping is at an all-time high.
There’s no mystery as to why what with the time and financial benefits associated with internet shopping.
You should read our advice before shopping online:
1. When buying something online, you should always do so via a secure connection.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and similar technologies encrypt data in transit, which is why reputable websites employ them.
If this technology is being used, a lock icon will appear in your browser’s address bar.
The website’s address should also start with “HTTPS” to indicate that it is secure. Keep your credit card number out of emails.
2. Instead of trying out new stores, stick to the ones you know and love.
These days, you can shop at a variety of stores online.
A perk is that you can return items to their physical locations instead of paying for return postage.
If you want to buy something from a store you haven’t heard of before, you should learn as much as you can about it first.
Consider contacting the BBB first. Ensure the site provides a real address, not simply a PO Box.
Finally, verify that consumer protection groups like the Better Business Bureau Online and TRUSTe have shown their seals.
Remember, these pictures alone don’t mean much because they can be copied and pasted onto any website. It’s expected that clicking the logo will link you to a page confirming the site’s BBB or TRUST certification.
3. To save money, try using discount codes and coupons.
You can save a lot of money by taking advantage of the rebates offered by many online retailers.
A promo code is usually entered in the order form to receive the discount. In the end, it’s subtracted from the final bill.
Online, many airlines provide discounted e-fares and weekly discounts to their customers.
Sign up for their website newsletters to be the first to know about these sales.
It’s a good idea to visit RetailMeNot before completing your purchase on any online store to see if there are any coupons or deals that may be applied to your order.
4. Search for better deals.
To save you time and money, so-called shopping bots simultaneously scour dozens of retailers’ websites.
The pricing differences are very shocking.
5. Try not to jump to conclusions.
Deals that seem too good to be true probably are.
Yes, I think they are. When in doubt, it’s best to ask the store owner about it.
There’s no contact info on the site; what gives?
Leave and do business with someone else.
As an additional precaution, you should Google the website’s name plus the word “fraud” to see if there is any information about whether or not it is a scam.
6. Make sure you know how much it will cost to ship.
Shipping costs, especially for expedited services like next-day delivery, may increase the final cost of an online transaction beyond what you would spend in a physical store.
There was a time when many online retailers used complimentary shipping as a selling point.
The days of free shipping on everything are long gone (outside of the holidays), but some retailers still offer the perk on particular items, with minimum order values or promo codes.
7. Be cautious with personal details.
Please give this a quick read-over.
Shop elsewhere if the policy bothers you; some retailers sell customer information to third parties.
Do not fill out the optional fields on the order form unless you are asked to, even if you have no issues.
8. Check the policies for refunds and returns.
The procedure for returning a purchase is not straightforward.
What is your time limit? Is a complete return guaranteed?
What is the return shipping policy? Answers are something a web store should offer.
If it doesn’t, it’s best to phone the store first.
9. Use a credit card.
Credit cards in the United States provide the same level of consumer protection regardless of whether you make a purchase in-store or online; if your card is lost or stolen, you can be held accountable for no more than $50 US, and in many cases, the credit card company will not hold you liable at all.
You can dispute charges and stop making payments if you disagree with a merchant.
A PayPal account can be a convenient alternative payment method, especially when shopping on online auction sites.
If you want to pay a merchant, you can move money from your bank account into your PayPal account.
This way, you won’t have to give your banking information to every online site you shop at because you can use PayPal.
10. Get a hard copy of your receipt to keep on file.
Once an order is placed, a new screen will load about that purchase. Print the paper copy. Or download a PDF to your computer.
There may be a link to a website where you can view the current status of your shipment.