Best ways to keep safe when shopping online

Unsplash — James Wiseman

The growth of e-commerce in Africa has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. As people look to avoid crowded shopping centers and supermarkets, they are turning more and more to online shopping. The number of internet users in Africa is expected to climb from 635 million to nearly 1 billion by 2050, with the majority of that growth coming from mobile devices. It’s a great time to start using your phone or laptop for online shopping — with a few precautions you can make sure you’re safe while you’re enjoying the convenience.

So how do you keep safe while shopping on the internet?. In this article, it will be made clear how.

Shop with reliable online merchants only

Although it’s easy to find websites offering the same products at cheaper prices, it can be hard to know who you’re really buying from. For example, some companies will advertise deals and discounts as if it were their own idea, but instead take advantage of a common tool that many businesses use: advertising. A search for “50% off” on websites such as Amazon or eBay will reveal hundreds of results for similar products competing for your attention — and have a tendency to always be one step behind the latest deal (if the item is even still in stock).

By avoiding these scams, and finding reputable merchants that offer realistic savings with no hidden fees, you can cut costs.

  • Look for a company with a good reputation. If you hear about a new company or business, look at what other customers are saying about their products and delivery.
  • Find customer service information on the website. A good online merchant will have contact information easily accessible to online customers.
  • Look for clear return policies and shipping costs. It’s important to know who is responsible if something goes wrong with your order — you want to make sure you can get your money back if the product isn’t as advertised or if there’s a problem with shipping. Before ordering things from an unfamiliar company, research their policies and any guarantees they offer about returning items that may be defective or damaged during shipment.
  • Check for privacy policies on the website and read them carefully to know how your personal data will be used and stored by that merchant before you give any details out (such as credit card numbers).
  • Find out more about who is behind the website by checking out “About Us” pages — they should tell you things like where they’re located, how long they’ve been in business, who owns the company, etc.
  • Look out for “s” after “http” which signifies that a website and the data in it are safe. You really have to look out for that.
Unsplash — Firbee.com

Beware of amazing deals on the internet

The internet is full of incredible deals and offers, but not all of them are legitimate. Some retailers may try to upsell you something that’s a year or two old and overpriced — or something that’s even fake. When shopping online, be wary of any deal that seems too good to be true. Take the time to research a product before deciding where to buy it from. After all, there are many scammers out there who will want nothing more than your money and personal information, so be vigilant when browsing the internet for deals.

You should also avoid shopping on websites that don’t use secure payment methods such as credit or debit cards. Many scammers try to lure you into sharing your financial details by offering services through unsecured web pages. Don’t fall for these tricks! If an offer seems unbelievable, check with friends or family members to see if they’ve heard anything about it before committing yourself to a purchase of any kind.

Unsplash — Kenny Eliason

Use strong passwords during signup and change them frequently

  • Make sure you’re using a strong password during signup. The strongest passwords are 8–12 characters long and use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols so that they’re not easy to guess. You should make sure to use letters in both upper and lower case as well as at least one number for your password. You should never put personal information (like your name) as part of your password since this also makes it easier for someone else to figure out what your password is.
  • Change your passwords frequently. Some people like to change their passwords every month, but you can decide how often it’s best for you. You might want to just write the dates down in a notebook or create an Excel file on your computer so that you don’t have trouble remembering when last you changed them.
  • Don’t use the same password on more than one website. This is important because if someone were able to figure out what your password was on one account, they would then be able to access all of the other accounts that used the same login information.
Unsplash — Blake Wisz

Use cards that are not directly linked to your bank

The best way to keep your card information safe is by using a virtual card. A virtual card is a single-use credit or debit. When you make a transaction with your virtual card, it uses the same encryption technology that traditional cards use, so all of your data is kept just as secure as if you had swiped a physical card.

An example of that is fxkudi virtual card which does not get linked to your bank to make payments online. Allows you to create more than one card for shopping and other online payments conveniently, and you can learn more about it here

Add an extra security level to your card

This protective step may not completely eliminate the chance of fraudulent charges, but it’s a good way to safeguard yourself and your card. Be sure to check with your credit provider to see if they offer virtual cards as an extra level of security, and what their policy is on fraudulent activity.

Don’t save your card information on an e-commerce sites

It’s not a great idea to save your information on e-commerce sites. The site could be hacked, and your data stolen; the site may not be reliable and your data could be compromised; or the site could even be fraudulent, in which case it’s all just a scam. Any way you look at it, saving your card information is just too risky.

If you want to make shopping online easier and safer for yourself, keep a secure list of cards that you use on file outside of these websites. A password manager app like LastPass is an excellent place to keep these details, as they are encrypted and only accessible with their own unique security codes. You can then copy and paste this information into forms as needed when you shop online — but by keeping them securely in LastPass, no one but you will know what they are!.

Keep safe while shopping and making payments online to have a great online shopping experience.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store