Purchasing something you’ve had your eye on online, clicking the “purchase” button, and waiting for the box to arrive at your door is a lot of joy.
However, business deals don’t always go down without a hitch. On average, 1,300 reports of online theft were submitted to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center every day in 2019, amounting to a total of $3.5 billion in damages reported by victims in 2019.
There has been a rise in the number of reports the FBI has received from customers who have not received their online purchases. The “discount” promoted on shoppers’ favorite social media platforms and search engines often led to many victims’ wallets being empty. They either got nothing at all, or they got something weird like a package of disposable facemasks, and the only way to return it was to pay a hefty international shipping fee.
The experience of shopping may be utterly ruined by these con artists. Learn how to protect yourself when buying online so you don’t become their next victim.
1. When making purchases, stick with well-known stores.
Try to stick to online stores you have previously dealt with and are familiar with if you can. You may save time and avoid potential security risks by keeping the URLs of your preferred shopping websites as bookmarks. Please do not enter the store’s name into your browser’s address bar.
That’s because it just takes one misspelling to take you to a malicious copycat site. When you “buy” anything from a suspicious website, you can give the fraudsters access to your credit card information and other sensitive details without even realizing it.
2. Check out the legitimacy of new companies.
Have you discovered a fantastic item offered by a novel vendor? Check out any company you haven’t done business with before purchasing from them. Check the BBB website and see if there have been any complaints filed against the company in question, as well as any online reviews that have been posted. For a U.S. mailing address and phone number, please visit our “contact us” page. Call the company to double-check if you still have doubts.
Why? The FBI found that some fraudsters use the official contact information of American companies to pass for their own.
3. Never trust a seemingly too-good-to-be-true price.
Did you see an advertisement on Facebook or Instagram that offered meager rates or gifts? U.S. statistics show that reports of financial losses due to social media scams have increased by a factor of three over the last year. Commission for Free Trade (FTC).
Always remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it generally is. According to the FBI’s investigation, several sites at the core of the latest wave of complaints had prominent advertisements on social networking networks.
Don’t purchase anything without first comparing pricing. If the rates seem suspiciously cheap, you may have stumbled into a fraudulent website designed to steal your personal information or money.
4. Don’t use free public Wi-Fi for personal matters.
When drinking your latté at your local cafe, resist the urge to go shopping. You never know whether the person at the following table is a hacker trying to eavesdrop on your online activities by looking at his phone the whole time.
Online purchases might be convenient, but they also require you to provide personal information that identity thieves want, such as your name, address, and credit card number.
5. Make use of a Virtual Private Network
Protect yourself with a virtual private network (VPN) if you must use public Wi-Fi (a virtual private network). An encrypted connection between your computer and the server is established using a virtual private network.
Hackers in the area won’t be able to see what you’re doing or steal any information you enter. You cannot securely make online purchases using public Wi-Fi in places like airports, coffee shops, and other public establishments without a virtual private network.
6. The use of secure passwords is highly recommended.
A robust password protects the accounts where you save sensitive information by acting as a safety lock. Some quick tips on selecting a secure password follow.
Make use of a complex combination of small and capital letters, numerals, and special characters. You might also choose a lengthy passphrase that would be difficult for others to guess but easy for you to remember.
Don’t use standard terms or facts about yourself that a thief would be able to guess, such as your child’s birthday, your dog’s name, or your favorite sports team.
Use a unique password for each site you use. If you do, thieves can access all of your accounts due to a data breach at a single organization.
7. Preserve the privacy of your sensitive data.
As a matter of thumb, your Social Security number should never be requested on a purchasing website. Keep running if a website asks for sensitive information.
Give just the least amount of personal information required by respectable merchants.
8. Use credit cards rather than checking accounts.
The usage of a credit card ensures the safest online purchasing experience imaginable. The first advantage of paying with a credit card is that the merchant does not have immediate access to the funds in your bank account. Second, with most credit cards, there is no guilt for fraudulent charges.
If your account information is stolen and used by a criminal, you will not be responsible for any charges made on the fraudulent transaction. A replacement card will be sent once you answer specific questions from your credit card provider and they examine the fraudulent charges.
9. Virtual credit cards provide an added layer of protection.
There is an added layer of protection provided by a virtual credit card while making purchases online. You may be able to get a temporary card number from certain credit card companies.
You may use the temporary number while making purchases online to protect your actual credit card information from being exposed. If a criminal obtains the virtual credit card number and attempts to use it, they will be out of luck.
10. Mind the details
Don’t lose the receipt or other documentation after making the transaction. Keep the confirmation number and tracking information that the vendor gives you as well as the receipt. This data will be helpful if there is a problem with the order.
11. Track your stuff
You should track your shipment(s) after making an online purchase to ensure prompt delivery. If the retailer doesn’t provide tracking information or answer your inquiries about your order’s progress, you may seek assistance from your credit card company. Perhaps they will investigate the issue and take the amount off your account.
Whether shopping online for groceries or buying a simple household product like cooler box Singapore, you need to prevent your identity and shop safely. These tips will surely keep you safe online.