Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you realize you’ve been scammed online?
Or maybe you’ve received a product that looks nothing like the photo and description you saw on the website.
We’ve all been there, and it’s not a pleasant experience.
Online shopping has become an increasingly popular and convenient way to buy goods, but it comes with its own set of risks and challenges.
And with the FBI reporting that online shopping scams resulted in $281 million in losses in 2022 alone, it’s more important than ever to shop wisely.
But don’t worry. In this article, we’re sharing 11 expert tips to help you shop online like a pro.
From protecting your personal information to finding the best deals, these tips will help you shop wisely and avoid the dangers of online shopping.
So, let’s explore some tricks and tips to help you navigate the risks of online shopping.
1. Be Cautious of Deals That Seem Too Good to Be True
When it comes to shopping, we all love a good deal. But sometimes, such deals that seem too good to be true can actually be a trap.
Online shopping has made falling for scams and fake products easier than ever.
Always research before making a purchase, and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
If a product is being offered at an incredibly low price compared to other retailers, there might be a catch. Don’t let the temptation of a cheap deal blind you to the potential risks.
Remember the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
So, be cautious and always double-check before making a purchase.
2. Always Compare Prices Across Different Websites
If you’re an online shopping enthusiast, you know the drill – add items to your cart and checkout. But wait! Don’t forget to compare prices across different websites before clicking that “buy” button.
Trust me. You don’t want to miss out on a better deal just because you didn’t shop around.
Comparison shopping across different websites is a surefire way to find great deals and save money, according to several case studies.
Think about it this way. You wouldn’t buy the first car you see without shopping around and comparing prices, right? The same goes for online shopping.
Don’t settle for the first price you see. Take some time to do your research and shop around to find the best deal.
To make it even easier, you can use price comparison tools that automatically compare prices for you.
3. Sign Up for Newsletters from Your Favorite Sellers
Nobody likes those annoying marketing emails, but signing up for newsletters and discount alerts from your favorite sellers can actually be a smart move when it comes to saving money.
Many retailers offer exclusive deals and promotions to their subscribers, so it’s worth signing up.
Not only can this save you money on your purchases, but it can also give you access to early releases and limited-edition items.
Just be sure to manage your email subscriptions to avoid inbox overload.
Instead, choose your favorite brands and stay updated with their latest deals and news. It’s a simple way to save money on the products you love!
4. Research the Seller and Read Reviews from Other Buyers
Before making a purchase online, it’s essential to research the seller and read reviews from other buyers.
Not all sellers are trustworthy, and not all products are good quality.
And don’t just rely on the seller’s description of the product, do your own homework.
By reading reviews, you can get an idea of what other people’s experiences have been like and make a more informed decision about whether or not to buy from a particular seller.
In fact, nearly 98% of consumers read reviews before buying from local businesses online, reveals the Local Consumer Review Survey 2023.
So, take the time to do a little research, and you’ll feel more confident in your purchase.
5. Watch Out for Fake Reviews or Inflated Ratings That Could Be Misleading
While we’ve discussed the importance of reading reviews, it’s crucial to note that not all reviews are genuine.
In 2020, Fakespot, a fake review detection tool, assessed Amazon product reviews and found that almost 42% were fake.
That’s a lot! So, while reviews can be incredibly helpful, you must be cautious and do your research.
To research a seller, look beyond the reviews they showcase on their website. Check out their social media pages, Google reviews, and other credible review sites.
Look for common patterns in the reviews, such as repeated comments on excellent customer service or products failing after a short period.
These could be red flags indicating that the seller might not be trustworthy.
6. Don’t Shop Online When You’re Distracted or in a Hurry
We all know the feeling of being in a rush and trying to get things done quickly.
But when it comes to online shopping, it’s important to take a step back and avoid making hasty decisions.
Shopping when you’re distracted or in a hurry can lead to overspending, buying the wrong item, or even falling for a scam.
It’s easy to get sidetracked by enticing deals or flashy advertisements, but taking the time to carefully consider your purchases can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.
Don’t let distractions or a busy schedule cloud your judgment and turn a good deal into a bad decision.
7. Look for Discount Codes or Coupons Before Making a Purchase
We all love a good bargain, don’t we? So before making a purchase online, take a few extra seconds to search for discount codes or coupons.
It can save you significant money, and who doesn’t want that?
And the best part? You don’t have to spend time scouring the internet for deals. There are tons of coupon code finding websites that can do the work for you.
It’s incredible how a simple code can slash the price of an item you’ve had your eyes on for months.
So, next time you’re about to make a purchase, don’t forget to check for discounts.
8. Keep Your Antivirus and Security Software Updated
Keeping your device’s antivirus and security software updated is critical when shopping online.
Not only will it protect you from malicious attacks, but it can also prevent identity theft and financial fraud.
Imagine making a purchase on an unsecured website, only to find out later that your personal information has been compromised.
It’s a nightmare that can easily be avoided by regularly updating your antivirus and security software.
Even many Cybersecurity experts agree that this is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself online.
So, before you start browsing and adding items to your cart, ensure your antivirus is up-to-date, and your security software is protecting you.
9. Avoid Shopping on Public Wi-Fi or Devices
The biggest mistake people make is shopping on public Wi-Fi devices.
It may seem harmless, but public networks and devices are not secure, making it easy for hackers to intercept your personal information and steal your identity.
Imagine shopping on a coffee shop’s Wi-Fi and suddenly receiving a notification from your bank that your account has been compromised. Scary, right?
Consider using a secure Wi-Fi network or your mobile data instead of public Wi-Fi or shared devices.
A few clicks on an unsecured network can put your sensitive information at risk. So, protect yourself and your data by being vigilant and shopping smartly.
10. Use Secure Payment Options Such as Credit Cards
When it comes to online shopping, one of the best ways to protect yourself from fraud is to use secure payment options such as credit cards.
Credit cards, for example, offer greater fraud protection than debit cards, which is why financial experts at NerdWallet recommend using them.
It’s not just about convenience. It’s about protecting your hard-earned money.
With credit cards, you have the added advantage of being able to dispute charges and get your money back if something goes wrong.
So, next time you’re shopping online, make sure to use a credit card for added security and peace of mind.
11. Consider Buying in Person from Local Shops or Markets
When it comes to shopping, it’s tempting to go for convenience and purchase everything you need online.
But have you considered the benefits of buying in person from local shops?
Not only is it generally cheaper to buy in person as you avoid paying shipping and other fees, but you also have the opportunity to inspect the item before making a purchase.
You can also avoid the hassle of shipping and potential delivery mishaps.
So next time you need to shop, consider taking a stroll to your local market – you may be surprised at what you find!
So, there you have some simple yet effective tips for wisely shopping online.
While it’s convenient to shop from the comfort of your own home, it’s vital to keep in mind the potential risks involved and take the necessary precautions.
Remember to only shop from reputable websites, use secure payment options like credit cards, and consider buying in person from local shops or markets whenever possible.
Following these guidelines can protect you from online fraud and have a worry-free shopping experience.