Unless you’re related to the Grinch, the holiday season will hit town. Guest writer Liz Cornwell, from Australian software developer Auslogics, has some important and informative tips on how you can avoid potential dangers while shopping online this Holiday season – or, any time for that matter.
The holiday season is a time of year that is wonderful and special for everyone – it’s the time for having fun, being with your friends and family, giving and receiving presents, and even making dreams come true!
For me, giving presents is just as exciting as receiving them. And what fun it is to shop for gifts, knowing that they will bring happiness and joy to your loved ones!
I’m pretty sure that you will do at least some of your shopping online. It’s not a secret that online retailers offer great deals. But at the same time there is always a potential danger of your money getting stolen by shifty dealers, scammers, and spammers.
OK, so maybe some of you don’t mind giving a couple of hundred dollars to thieves. However, it would be much better to donate that money to charity.
If you want to protect yourself from online fraud, then read on! Here are five simple tips that will help you shop online safely.
1. Use a Secure PC
No matter how careful you are, there is no guarantee that your computer is not infected. Anyone who browses the Internet, visits social websites, and downloads software simply cannot be 100% sure that their PC is malware- and spyware-free. So, before you start shopping, check that your computer has comprehensive protection and run anti-virus and anti-spyware scans. Use reliable up-to-date software.
We recommend using Auslogics Antivirus – not only will it protect you against viruses, spyware, and other threats, but it also has a feature called Privacy Control. This feature is especially designed to prevent hackers from stealing your personal data, so shopping online will be more secure. Auslogics Antivirus has a free unlimited 30-day trial, which will keep you fully protected for the next month.
If you can, avoid shopping from public computers, or a PC that your kids use to play online games and chat with their friends. Those PCs are likely to be infested with spyware, so your private data can get stolen no matter how careful you are.
2. Always Shop From Trusted Sites
There are a lot of sites that offer amazing bargains. In fact, some of them are so amazing that they simply can’t be true! Well, most of the time they aren’t – a lot of websites only pretend to be shops. All they want is to steal your money. Remember, nobody is going to offer you a car for the price of a burger. Therefore, I strongly advise you not to use search engine shopping. Or if you do, check and double-check the website before entering any payment details.
Pay attention to:
- security seals
- shipping, return, and refund policies
- use of secure connection (https://) when the website asks you to enter payment details
You can also research unfamiliar shops on sites like RipoffReport.
Never – ever buy anything advertised via emails from unknown senders and never click on any links in those emails either. Those emails are almost always a scam and links take you to websites that put viruses onto your system. And never shop at web-sites that ask you to wire money or send money orders.
3. Control Spam
If you’re concerned about getting spammed by online retailers, you can always either create a separate email address for shopping online, or create aliases. Here’s how it’s done using Gmail.
For example, your address is email@example.com and you are shopping at a website called greatoffer.com. So, when giving them your email address, type it as firstname.lastname@example.org. That way all future communication from that shop will be addressed to email@example.com.
So if they or someone from their network try to spam you, you will know it’s them and will be able to easily block them.
4. Pay With a Credit Card
Most of you will have several bank cards – some credit, some debit. Both can be used for online shopping, but it’s safer to use a credit card. Experts say credit cards give you less hassle when dealing with your bank, should unauthorized charges show up later on a monthly statement. Besides, you wouldn’t want to pay huge interest on your debit card overdraft, would you?
5. Think About Alternative Payment Methods
Did you know that you don’t necessarily have to use a credit/debit card when shopping online? There are plenty of other ways to pay for the goods you purchased – pre-paid credit cards, gift cards and certificates, and sometimes you can pay in cash upon delivery. Also there are websites like billmelater.com that allow you to shop online without having to enter your bank card details. Besides, online retailers actually encourage you to use a service like that by offering free shipping and an option to postpone your payment for up to 6 months.
These tips should help you shop online safely so that you don’t become yet another fraud victim. Enjoy your shopping and have a wonderful holiday season!
Regular readers are aware that I’m a big fan of Auslogics; a company which provides users with some of the best free applications on the Internet including, Auslogics Disk Defrag (recently reviewed here) – a “must have” addition to a serious computer user’s toolbox.
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