The internet is very convenient for your shopping needs, it saves you time and offers a wide range of products and services at affordable prices. Unfortunately, not all online traders provide good service; others are not only unreliable but fraudulent. It pays to ensure you enjoy a safe online shopping experience by following these tips:

Make sure you know with whom you are dealing. The site should provide full contact details, not just an e-mail address. It should also provide a physical address, company name and telephone number. It is advisable not to purchase from a trader that refuses to give these details.

A secure site is identified by checking for two main characteristics:

The page’s address bar starts with https:// rather than http://. “S” stands for secure, generally used by legitimate and reliable websites. Thus, while surfing on these websites, inserting personal details such as name, address, e-mail and credit card details, no unauthorised person will have access to your details, which reduces the risk of theft from your bank account or of your personal data.

If the site is secure, then a “padlock” should be on your browser screen, which may be found on the left of the address bar on most modern browsers. Click on the lock to see the details of the site’s security. Also, remember to ensure that your PC has an updated and effective anti-virus and anti-spyware software of the latest version.

Choose purchasing sites that offer the possibility of payment through options such as:

  • PayPal
  • Credit Card

Bank transfers and other money transfers limit the opportunity to get your money back while paying by credit card provides greater protection than other methods in terms of fraud and non-delivery.

Many online retailers request the CVV code, which is shown on the back of your card. Usually, the last 3 digits of the code will suffice. By inserting this code, you will prevent someone who has managed to obtain personal details such as your name, card number and expiry date from making purchases using your card.

Never provide your credit card information by e-mail or on a website that is not considered a secure site.

Note: Beware of websites that do not accept credit cards but insist on money transfers. It is an indication that the website is a scam.

Before purchasing anything off a site, try to do some background research on it, such as examine reviews posted by other users; this can help you make an informed decision. It is wiser to avoid shopping from sites that have a generally poor rating or negative feedback.

Check if the web trader has decided to be affiliated with a Trustmark scheme. A Trustmark is a sign that will be displayed on the trader’s website and shows that the trader has considered and is interested in ensuring your rights.

When outside, do not use public Wi-Fi, especially ones that are not secure. When connected to these unsecured Wi-Fi, it is possible that:

  • Information inputted or anything accessed is being seen by the person who set it up (which may not be your current establishment).
  • People other than the person who set the Wi-Fi up may be able to see the information you are inputting, or sites being accessed by you since unsecured Wi-Fi are easier to hack into, unlike secured ones.

Do not use unsecured public Wi-Fi, and if used, do not input any personal information, or access any sites that require a password. If a VPN service is accessible to you, use it since it does not allow the Wi-Fi provider to see anything you do.

When shopping online, always check for your cancellation rights. Shopping online generally gives you the right to cancel your purchase. However, in many cases, this right depends on the type of goods that you purchase. The right to cancel does not apply in certain instances, such as personalised goods, hotel reservations, and airline tickets. In addition, the seller may have described the procedure to be followed if you wish to return the product or may have also provided a more extended cancellation period than what he is obliged to provide by law.

As a consumer, you must be aware of the conditions of the contract. Therefore, make sure that you read the terms and conditions and that you fully understand their implications.

Remember that if an offer is too good to be true, it probably is not!

Are you satisfied?