Online shopping is quickly outpacing brick and mortar stores as the preferred method to buy nearly everything. Here are some great tips about how to stay smart and savvy while filling up your virtual shopping cart:
- Only shop from well-known websites or those that are recommended and highly rated.
- Look for a phone number and physical street address to verify that the website you’re shopping on has a legitimate place of business and a way to contact them if you have to.
- Shop around for everything! You’ll find that prices vary so much from site to site that you’ll usually always be able to find a better deal.
- Look for coupon codes or get a browser extension to find them for you automatically.
- Read the reviews. Something might look great in the photos but have one star reviews. Find out why.
- When buying clothes, look specifically for reviews about sizing and fit. You’ll be able to tell if something runs big or small and adjust your order accordingly instead of having the hassle of dealing with a return later.
- Pay with a credit card. That’s the only way you can dispute a charge if you feel something is wrong.
- Make sure you’re using a secure browser. Look at the URL. If it begins with “https” you know it’s secure. URLs beginning with “http” are not.
- Don’t shop on public Wi-Fi. It’s very easy to have your payment information compromised.
- Read descriptions very carefully. Just like everything else in life, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Make sure you are familiar with the site’s shipping and return policies before placing an order. Find out if they offer tracking on your shipment.
- Keep your receipts and check credit card statements to make sure you were charged correctly. It might be helpful to designate one credit card to be used for all online shopping. This will make it much easier for you to monitor what’s going on with your charges.
- Most online stores will ask you to create an account when you check out. Don’t do this unless you plan to shop there frequently. If you aren’t going to use it often, it’s just another way to have your information accessed.
- If you notice something suspicious, like the site is asking you for what you think is too much personal information or if you find unauthorized charges on your credit card statement, report the business immediately. It also wouldn’t hurt to leave a customer review or complaint on the website so other people shopping there have a chance to find out about your experience.
Online shopping is an amazing time and money saver. You can order everything you need to be delivered right to your door while you’re in your pajamas, snuggled on the couch. But make sure you’re being smart about both your security and the bargains you might be missing out on.