How to Make Your Online Shopping a Safe Experience
Shopping online can be just as safe as in person, if the same level of caution is used when making a purchase.
One prominent worry with online shopping is identity theft, the idea being that sending personal and financial information over the web opens the consumer to increased risk that their banking details will be used inappropriately or that their personal information will be used to create false identities for fraudulent or otherwise criminal purposes. After all, every order sent requires that an address be given, and debit and credit cards are the standard form of payment. However, unless the customer is paying with cash, the level of danger is the same whether online or in a store.
Online identity theft comes in more or less the same forms as in the real world, as an unscrupulous employee misusing customers’ financial details or a thief stealing a wallet, or in this case hacking a computer. Online shoppers who take care to purchase only from trusted retailers and who make sure to take extra precautions, such as clearing their internet browser cache before and after purchase and not making transactions using wireless internet in a public place, will have the same level of safety as anyone in a shopping mall or grocery store. In addition, there are one or more layers of added protection. Sites such as eBay usually have some form of seller rating system for customer satisfaction, and when paying with Paypal purchases are insured against a variety of potential situations.
Another concern consumers have with online purchases is that items may become lost, broken, or stolen in the mail. While it is true that not every package makes it to its destination, most forms of expedited shipping leave a trail for tracking packages and have insurance against loss or damage.
Counterfeit product is another potential danger, online as well as off, and while in person the customer can inspect an item to judge its authenticity, the online shopper has to wait until the product is received, then go through whatever process is necessary to try to get a refund. While in this case the internet contributes to the problem, it also helps with the solution as there are countless websites and forums that help a buyer identify contraband. When buying from well-rated sellers through reputable sites such as eBay or Amazon, consumers can be reasonably assured of the authenticity of their purchases and that there is recourse against fraudulent sellers.
The truth is, shopping using anything but bills and change opens the consumer up to potential dangers, both on-line and in the “real world”. However, the web has a full range of safeguards against fraud, identity theft and counterfeits in addition to offering consumers anything they could want for a good price, if they know where to look. Combine that with store flyers, coupons and promotional codes from retailers and third-party sites like ., and it is easy to see that bargain hunting has moved from the flea market to the global market.