How to Stay Safe When Shopping Online This Holiday Season

By Shan Balasuriya Posted Date: 2013-11-28

With the holiday season comes the shopping season, crowds of people will be hitting the stores to get their hands on holiday gifts and seasonal sales. As the task of shopping online becomes easier and more efficient a larger number of people prefer being able to buy what they want with a few simple clicks on the computer - Why waste hours walking around shopping malls trying to find those holiday gifts when you can make orders in a matter of minutes from home?

Shopping online can be a remarkable way to save precious time and in most cases money as well when buying holiday gifts. Including saving time and money, online shopping has other advantages too; like being able to order a gift online, have it gift wrapped with a card and have it shipped directly to the person you want to send it to. Especially during the holiday season many online vendors provide gift wrapping options. 

Although shopping online has a lot of great advantages, there are however a few disadvantages like the fact that you don’t get to immediately touch or see the physical item you purchased or the fact that there is a possibility of being ‘ripped off’ by fraudulent sellers. Cybercrime is ever increasing and many people tend to fall victim to scams and online credit card fraud – usually this is because of a lack of awareness on how to stay safe when shopping online. Below are some useful tips to stay safe when holiday shopping online:

  • Try to stick with well-known online vendors because they are more likely to have good security systems in place to protect their online customers as well as better reliability in terms of delivery and getting exactly what you ordered.
  • But just because a company is small and you may have not heard of it doesn’t always mean that it is un-trustworthy. If you decide to go ahead with shopping from a smaller company rather than from major online retailers it’s always a good idea to do a little research before passing on your credit card details and personal information to make a purchase. – Google the company to see what the online chatter is, and read about negative and positive feedback to build a perspective of the retailer.
  • It is also good to check their business website to see if there is a physical address and phone number listed. You can also ring them up to learn more about their company and get an idea for yourself of how genuine they seem from the phone conversation. 
  • Make use of safe payment methods like a credit card or PayPal. With credit cards you are generally protected by the card issuer, if there is a problem they would suspend the transaction till the matter is investigated and resolved. With PayPal you are less likely to get caught to credit card fraud as your card details are protected and payments go through them. 
  • When on an online retail site or e-commerce website, check the browser address bar for ‘https’ before the website URL. The letter ‘s’ means that the website has a security certificate and data is encrypted, although this is not fail-safe security it is still quite important.
  • Make sure you use unique and complex passwords that you change regularly; this will make your online account more secure and harder to hack into.
  • If possible avoid using public Wi-Fi hot spots when shopping online as this can create vulnerability and increase the risk a little. It is always better to make online transactions from home or a network that is secure and password protected.
As long as you stay aware and be careful shopping online is easy and safe. So make use of these tips and take advantage of the numerous online sales this holiday season so you can keep saving time and money by shopping online.

Check out next weeks Web Choice Online blog post for some of Australia's best online retailers so you can do your holiday shopping with ease.