Tis the season to go shopping! What better way to get your holiday fix than by e-shopping from the comfort of your own home? Nothing. If you know how to shop smartly that is. The truth is many people don’t know how to shop without putting themselves in danger. To help you out this holiday season, here are 8 common mistakes online shoppers make that you should avoid!
The 8 Worst Mistakes You Can Make While Shopping Online
A lot of people seem to forget that shopping online isn’t always super safe. The internet, in general, poses a lot of risks, especially when you consider how much information we tend to freely give out online. When it comes to shopping online, you need to be a little more vigilant with your security. Remember, if you’re shopping online then you’re exchanging money over a connection that isn’t as secure as you might think. For that reason, e-shoppers should pay attention to the following 10 shopping mistakes:
1. Shopping on a Site that Isn’t Secure
This is a very common mistake, even though it’s the easiest to avoid. When you visit a website, you might notice that the address found in the address bar usually starts with either HTTP or HTTPS. Even though it doesn’t look like there’s much of a difference, these protocols are actually very important when assessing the safety of a website. As a rule of thumb, never shop from a site that uses the insecure HTTP protocol.
A website that still uses that HTTP protocol is not a secure website. In other words, the data and information exchanged on that site is exchanged as plain text instead of coded text. That means that a hacker or attacker that intercepts that information can easily access all of the data without having to decipher it. A website that uses the HTTPS protocol, on the other hand, codes the data exchanged and protects your information from being accessed as easily as the HTTP protocol.
2. Not Reading Reviews
One thing can be said about any website with a comment/review section: People are vocal about what they like and don’t like online. If you’re planning on purchasing something off of a website, you should always take a look at the review section first. One of the mistakes online shoppers make is not checking the reviews for the item they want before they buy it.
If the product is bad (or even if it’s a scam), someone will have said something. The review section is a great tool for you to gauge out the validity of the item you’re trying to purchase. I would suggest staying away from 5-star and 1-star reviews, as those are usually biased. Check out the middle ground reviews to get a better look at the pros and the cons of the item you plan on purchasing.
3. Not Looking at Shipping Fees
Every e-commerce site has its own method of dealing with shipping. One website may offer its customers free shipping on all/specific products, others might have hidden fees that end up inflating your spending. Make sure you read their shipping policy to get the best approximation for your shipping fees. Otherwise, you might end up paying much more for a product that you’ve bought online than you initially thought.
4. Not Reading the Return Policy
What happens if you buy a product online, receive it, and the realize that there’s something wrong with it? Obvious, right? You return it.
Well, it’s not always that simple. Different online shopping sites have different return policies. Make sure that you read and understand the return policy of the website you’re using so that you know what you can and can’t do if you don’t like the product you receive. Some websites will state that the return or reshelving fees are on you, others take on that responsibility themselves. Make sure you know what your plan is in case you don’t receive the product you thought you were getting.
5. Shopping on Public WiFi
Here is the truth about public WiFi: It is incredibly dangerous to use. Unlike a mobile internet connection, WiFi is easily hackable and doesn’t really require any kind of special equipment to hack into it. Public WiFi, specifically, is a very appealing tool a hacker can use to gain access to the personal information of strangers.
If you are using public WiFi, do not do anything that would put your personal information at risk. Buying something online, for example, would be a big no-no on public WiFi as your banking information can get stolen with ease.
6. Saving Personal Banking Information
Do me a favor and take a look at your profile on your favorite e-shopping site. Do you have your banking details saved for convenience? If so, delete them immediately.
One of the most common mistakes online shoppers make is saving their payment and banking information on a particular website. While this might make the whole shopping experience easier for you, it also opens you to a lot of threats. Even if your own account isn’t being targeted, if the website itself gets hacked banking information is usually the first thing a hacker will try to access. In other words, it’s better to take a few extra minutes putting in your information every time you shop online instead of saving your details and risking your bank account.
7. Paying via Debit Card
Another common mistake online shoppers make is using their own debit cards for online payments. See, if your debit card’s information falls into the wrong hands, that bad agent will have access to everything that’s in your account.
An easy solution for this would be to check with your bank to see if they have what is called an e-Card. With an e-card, you can limit the amount of money you can spend online. This way, you’ll be able to shop without worrying about handing over all of your money to a hacker. Even if your e-card’s information is stolen, the hacker will only have access to the money you have on that card, not all of the money in your original bank account.
8. Not Using a VPN
Last, but certainly not least, one of the main mistakes online shoppers make is not using a VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN is a cybersecurity tool that secures your data and makes sure your connection is private. With a VPN, online shoppers can rest assured that their connection is private enough and secure enough so as not to put their banking and personal information at risk. Couple a VPN with the rest of the 7 items on this list and you’ve got yourself a solid and safe space to conclude all of your holiday shopping.
Our VPN experts suggest using ExpressVPN for your e-shopping sprees. Out of our list of the best VPNs for Online shopping, ExpressVPN landed in the top spot for it’s commitment to security, privacy, and it’s users’ all around safety online. You can read our full ExpressVPN review here to get a better idea of what this VPN provider has to offer. In case ExpressVPN isn’t your cup of tea, you can also use any one of the top tier providers in the table below:
There you have it, the 8 most common mistakes online shoppers make all the time. Online shopping is a great way of getting all of your holiday shopping done without having to leave the comfort of your house, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay some attention to how you shop online.
If you are planning on wrapping up your holiday shopping using the internet, make sure that you’re not making the mistakes mentioned above. You should also take a look at our article about our online shopping safety tips to make sure you’re coving all of your bases. Also, why not check out this article on getting the best online prices so you can save some money during this not-so-wallet-friendly time of year!
A reader, writer, and avid internet user. Hiba has spent the better part of her adult life looking for ways to have a safer and more user-friendly online experience, all while praising the uses of VPN connections to anyone who would listen.