Love online shopping? You’re not alone. It’s actually becoming a popular pastime in Canada. But in order to protect your computer — and your personal identity – be sure to take heed to these online shopping safety tips.
More Canadians are planning to do some online shopping this year, says Amex Canada. Based on a recent survey they commissioned, 56 per cent of Canadians say will do some online shopping this year, up 5 per cent over 2011.
If you’re one of them, be sure you’re safe about it.
The following are five ways to esnure you have a smooth online shopping experience.
1. Secure sites: Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission. You will see a little lock icon on your browser (and usually “https” at the front of your address bar) to confirm it’s a secure connection. Some browsers will tell you it’s safe to give out your credit card by showing you a green address bar, while unprotected ones will be highlighted in red.
2. Secure payment: Only shop on sites that take secure payment methods, such as credit cards, as you’ve got “buyer protection,” in case there’s a dispute of any kind. While not accepted at as many sites as credit cards, there’s also PayPal, which is electronically linked to your credit card or bank account. Never send cash or a cheque (the only exception is if you use online classifieds, like Kijiji or Craigslist, and meet with the person to conduct the transaction).
3. Avoid Wi-Fi hotspots: Resist online shopping when you’re using a public computer (such as in an airport lounge) or when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network (say, at your favourite café). You never know if your information is being tracked and logged — so it’s best to wait until you get home. On a related note, be sure to use the browser’s “private” feature if it offers one, which helps prevent your browsing history, cookies, and other information from being retained on the computer.
5. Stick within your comfort zone: Finally, if you’re new to online shopping, start small until you become more comfortable, with inexpensive products such as DVDs, books and small electronics like memory cards and USB Flash drives. Also, feel free to stick with businesses you already know and trust as most traditional “brick and mortar” retailers now offer online shopping — and one advantage is that some let you return merchandise to their stores, instead of shipping it back, if need be.