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Shopping Safely Online

Updated on November 1, 2014
Background Image Online Shopping
Background Image Online Shopping | Source

How to Safely Shop Online?

Online Shopping has increased a great deal, year over year, as per statistics. As consumers find lesser time on their hands, they have embraced shopping online as a viable option.

Some of the reasons people shop online are: comfortably shopping from home; avoiding the crowds; comparison shopping; customer reviews and recommendations; being able to shop 24/7; having the items delivered to their home; and nowadays you can even get free shipping.

There are many more benefits and reasons for cyber shopping, however, I want to discuss a more important aspect. It's a fact that more and more consumers are shopping online, and 2014 has not been different. Unfortunately many people are falling prey to internet fraud while shopping on the world wide web. On this web page, I will share some practical tips and information that will help you shop safely online and not become a victim of internet fraud.

Keyboard Background Image
Keyboard Background Image | Source

What is Internet Fraud?

Scams Conducted Online

In simple terms, internet fraud is any scam conducted using the internet to lure victims into thinking that the person or business they are dealing with is legitimate, but in fact they are not.

The fraud can originate through emails, forums, chat-rooms, blogs and/or websites and in many cases they look legitimate. They come in various forms, but these are the most common ones: online auctions, phishing, credit card fraud and identity theft.

Online Auction Fraud: in this form of the scam, products are offered at a deep discount. The victim buys the product, but either doesn't receive the product or receives a fake item.

Phishing: is one of the most common frauds in which the victim is tricked into providing personal information including usernames, passwords, credit card information, etc. through emails or websites that look legitimate. The information is then used for fraudulent transaction and the like.

Credit Card Fraud: is a form of fraud in which the victim's credit card information is obtained through fraudulent methods like phishing and then the victim's credit card is used to make purchases.

Identity Theft: is internet fraud in which the victim's personal information is sought after through fake websites or online forms. The information is later used for fraudulent purposes including applying for additional credit cards, loans, items purchases, all in the name of the victim.

I will discuss details of specific scams in another web page, but for now, I will focus on practical and simple things that you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim to internet fraud.

Poll: Internet & Credit Card Fraud - Share Your Experience with Internet Fraud

Have You Been a Victim of Internet or Credit Card Fraud?

See results

Tips to Prevent Internet Fraud

Though internet fraud is rampant and is increasing at a rapid pace, there are simple and practical things that you can do to protect yourself from being a fraud victim. Here are some tips that will avoid becoming a victim of internet fraud:

Identity Theft
Identity Theft | Source

Tip 1: Secure Your Computers & Browsers

One of the first and foremost things you need to do before you venture into the online shopping world is to secure your computers and web browsers.

If you are going to shop online, you have to realize that you will be required to share sensitive personal information like your name, address, credit card details, etc. This sensitive information can be transmitted securely using browsers that encrypt information so only the desired party is able to access it.

One of the ways to determine whether a website is secure is to notice the yellow LOCKED padlock on your status bar of your browser, but not all browsers use it. Another way is to notice the "https://" instead of the "http://" (the additional "S" meaning a secure website) in the website address on your browser.

Also, ensure that you have a good internet security and virus software installed on your computer to protect your computer from malware, spyware and other internet threats that can compromise your data.

Tip 2: Do Not Share Passwords

Another important aspect of online security is to choose difficult passwords that use alpha-numeric characters and never share your passwords online or over the telephone with your buyer or seller.

Make it a habit to change your passwords regularly. And do not use the same passwords for your email and banking, for example.

Also, if possible, try to memorize your passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) instead of having to write them down.

Online Shopping
Online Shopping | Source

Tip 3: Shop at Reputable Online Stores

When shopping online, go with the reputable, verified sellers, those that have been verified through credible third-parties like Better Business Bureau, Truste, VeriSign, Guardian eCommerce and others.

You will see their seal of approval on their websites, however, ensure that they are legitimate by clicking on them and verifying the information. Use websites that have a physical street address and phone number listed so you can contact them, if and when necessary.

Never entertain unsolicited email messages that request personal or account information, even if it appears to be from a trusted source. And be cautious about unsolicited offers via email from sellers.

Tip 4: Understand Privacy Policies

Before transacting with online sellers or websites, check their Privacy policy to ensure they do not reserve the right to sell or divulge your information with third-parties for special offers.

If the policy contains language that gives them the authority to share your information, ensure to "opt-out" of it. Make sure to confirm the company's delivery and return policies before you finalize the purchase of any products or services as well.

Protecting Yourself Online
Protecting Yourself Online | Source

Tip 5: Be Careful Sharing Personal Information

When using a credit for online purchases, use one with a low credit limit and only provide your credit card information at the time you're ready to finalize your purchase. Alternatively, use a PayPal or AlertPay account which can be linked to your credit card or bank account.

Never transmit credit card or personal information via email since your data will not be securely sent. Avoid using debit cards, rather use credit cards since they carry more security in case of fraud. Should your credit card be stolen or lost, ensure you notify your credit card company immediately.

And always shred your credit card receipts and statements (if not required) rather than simply discarding them into the trash can.

Tip 6: Keep Track of Transaction Records

It's a good idea to maintain your transaction records until your payment has been settled and product received as well as in case you need to return the product.

Keeping transaction records also helps balance your monthly credit card and bank statements which you should do on a regular basis. Balancing your credit card and bank statement on a regular basis helps you track unauthorized transactions and report them before it's too late.

Also, it's a good practice to check your credit report at least once or twice a year to help report unauthorized activity. Credit reports can be obtained through various credit bureaus like Equifax and TransUnion.

How to Prevent Internet Fraud & Protect Yourself

The Ultimate Guide To Internet Safety
The Ultimate Guide To Internet Safety

This book highlights the parallel of real world crime, individual rights and responsibilities related to the computer, internet and electronic devices including child predators, cyberbullying, fraud, harassment, identity theft, infectors, intellectual property violations, intrusion, legislation, malware, marketing, privacy, spam and reporting cybercrime.

It emphasizes that national policies and laws should not only be blind to the tool used to commit the crime but should be formulated to fairly balance the privacy, respect, responsibilities, rights and safety of each individual.


Share your thoughts on Online Shopping

Guestbook: Online Shopping Safety 2014

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    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 3 years ago from USA

      Timely advice, and much needed!

    • avidepot profile image

      avidepot 3 years ago

      it is much safer to shop online today then years ago when it was a phone order and you had to give your info to someone you actually don't know! today every site uses 3rd party to proses the order and seller don't get any info that he can use in the future like it use to be.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, thoughts, and advice on shopping safely online. Stay safe out there, especially during this Holiday shopping season!

    • profile image

      lilpixiedust 5 years ago

      There was a time, when I was trying to buy something online and they got my credit card info and used it to buy airline tickets. Man, that was like over $500. I had to call the credit card company and told them I didn't make that purchase. Obviously that site I tried to make a purchase was not secure and leaked out my info. You have some very great tips for shopping online. Thanks for the share!

    • jethrosas profile image

      Jethro 5 years ago from Philippines

      I learned a lot from reading this lens. Now I know that whenever do shopping online, we must not aggressively buy and purchase things we want because there are some important things to consider. Thanks for this! :)

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 6 years ago

      Common sense can go a long way!

    • profile image

      michaeljames001 6 years ago

      Great Lens, every child should be forced to read something like this before going online for the first time, it's amazing how many people go online without proper virus or firewall protection, a neighbours daughter was complaining because her computer was going so slow, I installed and ran a cleaner and there was at least 15 bits of malware and virus sitting on her "C" Drive nough said!

    • sponias lm profile image

      sponias lm 6 years ago

      When I was a newbie I was a victim of an impostor who tried to charge a monthly fee for his reports, while I had never signed up for them. I had to wait two months in order to have my money back. I had many similar experiences online, until I learned my lessons. The most important one was to Never give my credit card number to anyone. Now, I only buy something through Paypal or Clickbank.

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      Wonderful advice here! We all need to be very careful about where we shop. I like to use PayPal whenever I can....

    • profile image

      GabrielaFargasch 6 years ago

      I always shop online for almost everything I need, except groceries.... This lens is extremely important and an eye-opener for a lot of people! Thank you for taking your time and writing about this... Many people shop online and think they are safe... We can never be too careful nowadays in the "virtual world"....

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      we can ensure that we install the relevant security measures, read the fine print and read everything twice! cheers

    • Mayapearl profile image

      Mayapearl 6 years ago

      I will have to bookmark this lens and pass it on to some friends. Thank you

    • profile image

      Ruthi 6 years ago

      Years ago my bank account was emptied. Fortunately, there was only a month's money for bills in there. The incident occurred due to my ex and his drunken porno desires, grrr!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @momsfunny: Wow, that must have been quite the nightmare...hope the final outcome was positive. We definitely need to exercise caution with so much hacking going on online. That's the reason I decided to create this Online Shopping Safety lens.

    • profile image

      momsfunny 6 years ago

      I had my bank account hacked into and it was devastating, you give some great advice here.

    • Pnorway profile image

      Pnorway 6 years ago

      great lens. thanks for the useful ideas.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @TheLittleCardShop: Good to know that you haven't been a victim of internet fraud. Yes, I agree, about avoiding using credit card information on public and shared computers...good advice!

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      This is a very informative lens. I haven't been a victim and try to take as many precautions as possible. Protection software, make sure that the sites where I will buy are verified. Another important protection is not to use your credit card from public or shared computers and clean your cache before and after doing any online transaction.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @clouda9 lm: Yeah, in today's world where so much is done online, it's important to practice online safety. Thanks for your kind words and squid angel's much appreciated! :)

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 6 years ago

      This is a must read page for anyone shopping online. Actually many of the points you make hold true for anyone that does any type of online work too. Wonderfully presented. *Blessed and featured on

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @anonymous: Sorry to hear about your bad experiences selling on eBay. Yeah, I agree it's important to keep records so as to use it later in case of a dispute. I experience online has been generally good so far...thanks for sharing your feedback!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      AJ, you have presented excellent information in a very nice, easy-to-follow format. I have never been the victim of any kind of Internet fraud, but I realize that I am very blessed and that some people have had really bad experiences. Thank you for sharing the valuable information about online shopping safety.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @AuthorNormaBudden: Thanks much, Norma...glad you found it useful and engaging! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have bad experiences selling on Ebay. but now just used Lelong or Amazon. fast and easy. remember to record everything and quickly file a complaint if U notice somthing weird.

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

      This lens is a work of art! What more can I say? They way you've presented your points is truly engaging.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @Wonder-V: Thanks for dropping by and I'm glad you found this lens useful to blogroll it. You've made good progress with your lenses in a short time so far...all the best!

    • Wonder-V profile image

      Wonder-V 6 years ago

      This is great and I plan to blogroll it on my Craigslist user tutorial series. I am emphasizing safety first in the series and it is huge that people understand how not everyone is nice. It can be a hard pill to swallow or even understand the concept if you don't have a vicious mindset. Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Good informative lens. In every online purchase keeping safety is important. And it is advisable to do online purchase in their own personal system and confirm that the transaction is secure or not. Purchasing online reduce our work but it increase our pressure when it goes unsafe. M6.Net Hosting Blog

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks guys for your input, thoughts and kind comments! As more and more people are turning to online shopping, fraud is increasing, so the best way is to stay aware of it and take precautions...wishing everyone a happy and safe Christmas / Holiday season...stay blessed! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      You give the best advice! I love how you always find a way to serve others. I've been careful, but it's always good to get a refresher coarse from an expert, thank you!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Oh my -- shame on those fraudsters who prey on shoppers. Especially in today's economy.

    • littlelu lm profile image

      littlelu lm 7 years ago

      Very informative! Should be very useful to people new to online shopping and veterans of it as well.

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 7 years ago

      Great, useful information and great presentation! Thumbs up!