Ever see a "storefront" that pops up on Facebook with something cute or cool that you just can't pass up? We all have, and it can be a roll of the dice that you may win or may lose. Sadly, on a few occasions, some of us discovered that when we finally receive the product, it arrives smelling like it traveled at the bottom of a container on a slow boat from China, which it may have, even if you didn't think you were ordering from China. Rarer, thankfully, the product never arrives. Poor quality products, shipping holdups and customer service are the least of one's problems, though, when online shopping. So, today we have 5 tips for you to pass along to your senior (or any age) friends on staying safe while enjoying shopping online.
1. Stick with well-known, well-reviewed stores
Best bet is to stick with stores everyone is familiar with (or google the store's name to make sure it is an actual store, with good reviews) and never make a money transaction unless you see that it is secure.
2. Verify your security
One good way to ensure a site is secure is by looking for the address to begin with "https" (rather than just "http"). When you make a purchase on a website, conduct business on a banking site, or visit any site that requests financial or sensitive information, the URL (web address) should change to begin with "https://" and will display a lock icon in the search bar, just before the URL. The HTTPS stands for HTTP Secure, which means that all communications between your browser and the website in question are encrypted and secure, using a security certificate.
3. Don't make a purchase from a pop-up window or an email
Ignore unsolicited emails and pop-up windows. If you receive an email about a product that you'd like to investigate, visit the store's website directly (manually access the store's site - type it in yourself - in your web browser). A common email “phishing” scam involves placing links into emails that appear to click through to shopping sites, using alternate keyboard characters to mimic even popular retailers like Amazon; you only find out that they are fraudulent after you’ve already submitted your payment information, but you never actually receive what you ordered.
4. Use a credit card to shop online, rather than a debit card
When you use a credit card, you are essentially spending the bank's money - and not your own, as you are with a debit card. This is in your favor because banks will likely fight fraudulent charges more aggressively.
5. Be choosy about online stores you do business with
In our own family, unless a storefront has listed contact information (a physical address or phone number for support), we don't do business with them, because if something goes wrong, they are impossible - or at least difficult - to contact.