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Safety Tips

  1. Stick to trusted retailers

    Always make sure to research a website before making a purchase. Sticking to retailers that you’ve shopped with before is a great start. What if you’re shopping at an online store that’s new to you? Do some digging into their reputation through consumer reviews on Trust pilot, Yelp, and Google.
  2. Check site security

    Keep an eye out for SSL encryption on a retailer’s website. You can do that by checking if the website address starts with https (rather than http) and whether or not there’s a padlock icon to the left of the URL in the browser’s address bar.It’s important to note that https encryption works whether or not you’re connected to the VPN. But, a VPN and https encryption paired together will keep you highly secure.
  3. Protect your personal information

    Be extra careful about what information you provide on a website. If in doubt, give out the absolute bare minimum information required to make a purchase. Be cautious of unusual requests via email or phone calls asking you to verify information about your account. As a matter of safety, retailers will never ask you sensitive details about your account including your date of birth or passwords.
  4. Stay protected on public Wi-Fi

    Making purchases on public Wi-Fi networks without a VPN increases the chance of your traffic being intercepted. If you don’t have a VPN, avoid online shopping in places like hotels, airports, public hotspots, buses, and cafes.
  5. Create strong passwords

    When creating online accounts, ensure that you use strong and unique passwords in addition to two-factor authentication. Make it as hard as possible for someone to access your account.
  6. Use online payment services

    Where available, use a secure payment gateway like PayPal, Stripe, or Venmo. Linking your credit card, rather than your debit card, to an online payment service also helps to provide an extra layer of defence to accessing your money.
  7. Be wary of fraudulent deals

    If you find a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is. If a product is noticeably cheaper compared to other websites, there’s a high chance it’s a counterfeit.
  8. Monitor your statements

    By enabling automatic payment notifications on your online banking or payment services, you can be notified as soon as a payment is made—genuine or not.
  9. Use a VPN

    A VPN, or virtual private network, will route your online traffic through a secure tunnel. In addition to providing protection, downloading a VPN for online shopping can also potentially save you money. As it turns out, prices on online stores and services can vary across locations.
  10. Check if retailers accept credit cards

    Credit cards are a reliable method for shopping online as they are backed by banks and financial institutions and are generally accepted by the vast majority of online retailers. It is one of the easiest payment methods to stop in the event of fraud.
  11. Research online reviews

    While there have been rising instances of fake reviews for online stores, it’s still recommended that you check out trusted review sites like Trust pilot. Keep an eye out for an inordinate amount of reviews with extremely similar or over-the-top language.
  12. Type the URL directly into the address bar

    If you receive emails for online deals, visit the websites for those particular retailers by typing their URLs directly into your browser’s address bar instead of clicking on the links in the emails. This way, you can determine if the advertised deal is authentic and protect yourself from fake links.
  13. Use a dedicated email address

    Creating a separate email address just for online shopping can reduce the risk of spam. This also has the advantage of keeping all of your online shopping activities separate to your main email account. Alternatively, you could also use anonymous email forwarders-to mask your main address.
  14. Exercise caution when shopping from your phone

    Where possible, opt for a retailer’s official app rather than making purchases from mobile browsers. Be extra careful with links from URL shortening services (like Bitly or Google URL Shortener) since their destinations are unknown.
  15. Always log off after online shopping

    Unless your device is exclusively used by you and you alone, take care to log out of all of your accounts once you’ve finished your online shopping.
  16. Install an antivirus or anti-malware software

    Protect yourself against potential security risks to your online shopping activities by installing antivirus programs on your devices. Many reputable antivirus suites will have extensions and add-ons that you can also install on your browser.
  17. Don’t be afraid to complain

    If what you’ve ordered doesn’t match the retailer’s description, is damaged, or doesn’t even arrive, don’t be afraid to complain…hard. Complain to the website, the retailer, the reseller, or a state (or federal) oversight agency. You did, after all, pay for your order!
  18. Use a virtual credit card

    Virtual, or temporary, credit or debit cards are a great way to add an extra layer of security to your online transactions. Select credit card providers can issue temporary card numbers forked off your existing card. These can then be used for specific or one-off purchases.
  19. Research physical addresses and phone numbers

    Where possible, look for whether or not a business has verifiable addresses or phone numbers listed on their websites. An easy way to check whether an address is real is to research it on Google Maps. To be fair, it is worth noting that larger online platforms like Amazon also accommodate third party resellers and any disputes that may arise will be handled by Amazon.
  20. Read the Terms and Conditions

    Always remember to read the terms and conditions for anything that you buy online. For example, make sure that a retailer is legitimate before purchasing gift cards. This can help to ensure that your recipient can access and use the card without any unnecessary barriers.