Things You Need to Know When Buying Online
For most people, shopping online isn’t second nature. We’re used to walking into a store, buying a product, and calling it a day. But these days, many transactions happen online, and online can be a scary place! You may not know exactly what you’re buying, if you’re buying from a trusted source, or what the return policy is. Worst of all, how can you be sure you’re not dealing with a scammer? Here are some tips for staying safe while shopping online:
- Always buy from a trusted seller. Amazon, eBay, and Etsy all hold sellers accountable. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid buying from sites like Craigslist, where just about anybody can create a listing. That’s not to say all of Craigslist is a scam—there are plenty of legitimate sellers and listings on Craigslist, it just requires some personal screening beforehand.
- Do your research. Before going through with a transaction or sending any payments, check the reviews, ratings, and seller history, if available. If those things aren’t available, then use your own judgement, but be cautious. Sites like eBay have a large database of reliable seller’s histories. A seller’s history can reveal a lot about their “track record” in the online selling community. If it’s anything less than 90%, look elsewhere.
- Learn how to detect a scam. Look out for obvious cover-ups, fake pictures, or anything else that could be a sign it’s not a legitimate listing. Even small things, like spelling mistakes can sometimes point to a fake listing.
- Don’t give personal info directly to the seller. Withhold your personal email, any financial indicators, or credit card information from the seller. There’s no reason they should know your exact address, or anything else that could compromise your privacy or identity.
- Meet in public place, not at the person’s home. Especially if you’re dealing with a larger transaction, meet at a high security place like a bank, where surveillance cameras are recording. For your own safety, always tell someone where you are, or bring a friend if you can. If the seller suggests otherwise, then steer clear.
- Use a trusted payment method. Using services like PayPal, which are trusted and accountable for payment transactions, can help protect you against fraud. Always be sure you’re protected by finding out whether you would be refunded if the sale was a scam.
Shopping online doesn’t have to be scary. Being safe and protecting yourself online can be just as easy as it is important! Take these helpful tips, and you’ll be shopping smarter online faster than you can say “Add to Cart”!