As we grapple the effect of Covid-19, many online shoppers have to change their shopping behaviors. With this change, Covid-19 Online Shopping has become an all too familiar term which has led to more online transactions.
In comparing March 2019 to March 2020, the start of the lockdown, there is a 21% increase in the number of orders placed online. Also, in a survey conducted by Bazaarvoice, about 41% of the 3000 individuals admitted that they are now shopping what they’d generally have bought in a brick-and-mortar store.
With this rapid improvement eCommerce is enjoying, many fraudsters have been swift to swarm. Therefore, it is quite essential to stay secure while carrying out transactions online. Below are six tips for you!
Covid-19 Online Shopping: 6 Safety Tips for Shoppers
1. Examine the Site Thoroughly
When using a brick-and-mortar store’s service, you have the privilege to meet employers and see firsthand the inventory to be sure you aren’t dealing with a scammer. But when operating an online store, the first trust indicator is the website.
When operating on stores like Amazon, eBay, Target, and other widely recognized e-commerce websites, you might not genuinely bother about their website. But, that can’t be said of upcoming e-commerce websites that are just starting out.
One of the reasons why people stream to these websites is the price tags on items. They are often cheap. But, what happens if you can’t find trusted reviews of this website online, and all you have to do is to trust your instinct? Well, you don’t have to make a guess. There are some moves you will be required to make to examine the website you are dealing with.
Two Basic and Simple Ways to Examine a Website:
- Check Lock on the Website. That is to verify if it’s secure. You need to go a step further. Why? Since many browsers have changed how their browser is displayed, you have to click on the padlock to view the website’s details and certificate information.
Hint: Never use a site that fails to use encryption for the transfer of data.
- Ask Questions. Coupled with this first step, you can ask yourself these critical questions. These questions are going to help you confirm if a website is trustworthy or not.
These questions include:
- Does this website have a return policy listed or terms and conditions?
- Are there glaring grammar and spelling errors?
- Does this website have social media following buttons?
- Are there reviews on the website?
- Is there a secure site seal?
- Do they have contact information listed (This is important if you want to make further inquiries about your order.)
Answers to these questions will either move you to place an order or shield you from placing an order. Yes, they are helpful guides to help you determine if they should be trusted or not.
2. Protect Your Data
One of the most precious items you have on the internet and should be genuinely cherished is your data. Many suspicious and fraudulent websites might ask for every personal data even if it doesn’t seem relevant.
Take for example, if you want to buy water online, do you need to drop your date of birth? Absolutely no! But if you are purchasing alcohol, you will undeniably need it. Before you give any personal information, ensure that this request corresponds with the order you are making.
To protect your data, the following tips will help you through:
- Resist the urge to divulge more information than you need to. If all your personal information is being requested, put a call through to inquire if there is other required identifying information. And if you can’t, do the best thing－Walk away!
- Choose only strong Passwords. Your password must include a complex set of both uppercase and lowercase, symbols, and letters. Do not use personal information as a password. And for multiple accounts, do not use the same password. Rather than creating an account, you can use the guest checkout feature available on these websites.
- Beware of Suspicious Payments. There are highly suspicious forms of payment like mailing checks or cash or sending money to an anonymous Paypal account. Using a credit card will be the best if you are concerned about a transaction. This is because it has liability protection.
Often, check your statements of accounts, so you do not have any fraudulent charges.
3. Update All Your Softwares
Software updates are vital for cybersecurity and digital safety. The earlier you update your device, the quicker the feeling of security will come until you get another new update. You are perhaps no stranger to those pop-up windows notification telling you that there are software updates available. On your tablets, iPhone, or Android devices, you could find the notification when you slide down your notification pane.
For many, it is their custom to click on, “remind me later,” on the system, and on their mobile devices, they ignore it until Lord knows when.
Well, if you are going to be shopping online with such a device, ensure that you don’t fall for the temptation, or even if you will, do it when you aren’t making a purchase and you don’t have an impending purchase online. So, when you want to make your purchase, do well to update it.
It doesn’t matter what device you are using in making the online transaction. What’s essential is whether the software or app you are running on that device is updated. It is only when it’s updated that you can prevent cybercriminals from doing the unexpected－exploiting your weakness.
Living in a region where you invest heavily in data subscription, could make it tough for you to keep all your software updated. If you get scammed eventually, you might have to lose more than you’d have lost if you had updated it.
These are two moves you could make to be safe from scammers that take advantage of security flaws:
- Do not install any suspicious software. If you find any software suspicious, do not run it.
- Before performing an online transaction, keep your software updated. Your device has to be updated before you make any purchase online. If you can update all the software you have, never skip updating that device.
4. Be Suspicious of email Deals
Criminals can convince you to engage in something that will be used to their advantage. By utilizing a scam email or even text messages, you’ll be made to click a link. Once you do, that might lead you to an unreliable website where viruses could be downloaded to your system resulting in a password and other personal information theft.
On the phone, the request could be more direct, thus demanding that you drop sensitive information like your banking details. But how do they do this?
They impersonate the firm you operate with and trust.
There are some advertisement emails that you can receive too. As explained, these pretend to be legitimate organizations. Offers could be ridiculously cheap. During this pandemic, you might come across emails requesting that you buy face masks, hand sanitizers, or other essential materials that are commonly asked on e-commerce websites.
In this type of situation, what can you do?
- Exercise great caution. Especially if it comes with Covid-19 related theme
- Links and attachments must be disregarded. Disregard any unsolicited email from any firm. If you will have to click on it, quickly run a background check on the internet.
For example, let’s assume that a suspicious email is from a firm we’ll call “Crag.” Before clicking on Crag’s link, quickly open your default browser and type, “Crag e-commerce review” you could even type, “Crag site quora,” Crag site Reddit.” If you do this, you will understand what people are saying on these and many other popular forums and websites.”
- Copy and paste the link on a Browser. If you don’t have the time for verifying this on forums, just copy and paste the link URL on your browser, maybe one of the browsers you’ve never used for a transaction.
These are some of the perfect ways to deal with suspicious emails.
5. Stay Alert to Deals that are “too good to be true.”
In January 2020, Kiernan Dunlop posted an article on southcoasttoday and gave it a title: “If it sounds too good to be true…New Bedford Police Alert citizens to Scam.” If you read the letter, you will agree that only greed could make a person fall victim to such a scam.
In warning citizens, the Police Department advises that everyone be vigilant each time they check either their mail or that of a loved one.
If a deal is too good to be true, it is. Time has revealed that one of the most robust defenses to combat online scammers is sense. My personal experience has shown me that this saying is true.
To have a solid common sense, you must not be greedy. 75% of those who have fallen victim to scammers fall as a result of greed. Some offers are just so ridiculous, but out of desire, many become gullible, and get scammed.
Also, there are subscriptions to ads that everyone must be conscious of. They can be dangerous since they are capable of spamming mailboxes with malicious emails.
So, when you receive a deal, pause and contact the firm themselves to be sure that the deal is from them. If it’s a firm you never subscribed to their newsletter, if you don’t have the time for verification, just simply disregard it. That will save you more pain and trouble.
6. Act When Orders Delay More than Expected
If you meticulously practiced what you have read up here, you should be dealing with a trusted website if you eventually decide to place an order. But does that mean that at times, things can’t take different dimensions. No!
As explained by Shiptrackapp, “shipment delay is uncommon, but when it happens, it is often an unsatisfying one. In a perfect situation, the order should be delivered at the stipulated time without any delay.”
Even with trusted websites, late delivery could be as a result of:
- Motor Vehicle faults
- Lost packages
- Inadequate Technology
- Weather Condition
- High Volume shipment
All these and many other reasons could lead to a delay in your order. Nevertheless, when a delay in technology occurs, you shouldn’t just sit. With a trusted website, you can still exhibit a reasonable level of calmness, but when dealing with a new website, you would need to take some reasonable steps.
- Checking the Order Confirmation and Receipt. When your order seems delayed, you need to visit the site once again and check out their contact information. Doing this will enable you to reach the merchant, and hopefully, if you haven’t been scammed, you will be able to reach out to someone and explain what happened. In an event where you couldn’t get any response, take the next step.
- Contact the Governmental Regulatory Authority in Your Country. These regulatory bodies are involved in the protection of workers and consumers. These bodies can help you look into this. If they are scammers, your report will lead to the clampdown of the website, thus guiding you and others from fallen future scam from that particular website.
As we expect more growth in the eCommerce sector, more billions of dollars will be spent. Do your part to record more transactions that will be eventful. Of course, this could be achieved if the tips explained in this article are judiciously adopted. If you have agreed to implement this, advocate it, and educate others too. It could be to your friends, co-workers, or family relatives.
Well, these aren’t all you could do. Before the advent of COVID-19, I put up an article that discusses Coronavirus Scams everyone must know. Within a couple of minutes, you can finish it up. It discusses seven valuable points that will keep you safe from being scammed.