The booming eCommerce industry has made it easier than ever to purchase items from anywhere in the world. The plethora of payment options, from virtual wallets like Apple Pay to mobile apps that let you pay with your smartphone have also improved the online shopping experience. While safety measures have improved significantly over the years, you still need to remain vigilant to avoid fraud or identity theft while buying online.
Use a Secure Payment Method
Most online businesses offer multiple payment methods, but you should only select options that protect your data and your purchase. Paying for a purchase through a bank transfer is prone to errors. If you enter a single digit of the recipient’s payment information incorrectly, your money will go to the wrong account. Even worse, the unintended recipient is not obligated to return your funds!
Debit card payments also have security issues, as they do not provide fraud protection. Additionally, if your card information is somehow stolen from a faulty website, it puts the assets in your bank account directly at risk. The recovery process can be very long, and many times, fraud victims do not get their money back.
Instead, opt for methods that include extra layers of protection. For example, mobile payment apps can draw money from digital wallets, which limits how much can be lost if your information is exposed. Payment apps also have extra authentication features that require real-time approval using your smartphone or an authenticator application.
Purchases made with credit cards are often covered by zero-liability policies, which means you will not be held financially responsible for any unauthorized transactions. Credit card companies are also more likely to refund your money if you enter a dispute with a seller.
When you are ready to complete your order, make sure you are using a secure WiFi connection. If you send your payment information while logged into a public network, you incur the risk of eavesdroppers capturing your username and password. Once scammers have this information, they can enter your email or networking accounts and steal your identity.
Check the Website
Unfortunately, practically anyone can put up a convincing website and use it to collect personal data and card information. If you’re thinking about making a purchase from an unfamiliar online vendor, you must do your due diligence before entering any sensitive information. Look for signs of authenticity.
For example, when you enter the payment portal, the origin of the page’s URL should include the letters HTTPS. This means that the webpage has extra security measures that make it more difficult for hackers to steal your information while it is processing. You can also look for trust badges, such as the Verisign symbol or the Better Business Bureau icon. You can check a badge’s legitimacy by viewing the provider’s website and reading their verification process.
A legitimate seller can unfortunately sell poor-quality products. If the seller gives past customers the option to leave a review on their page, start with mid-range reviews. These tend to be the most balanced. Then read two or three of the lowest and highest scores. This will give you a good understanding of what you can expect from the product and overall customer experience.
You can also look on third-party sites like Trustpilot or Consumer Reports. If the website is very niche, consider looking on forums like Reddit or Quora. Chances are someone has already asked a question regarding the company’s products or legitimacy. Since these sites don’t impact ratings, the responses are far more likely to be honest.
Investigate the Seller
Thanks to the ease of importing and dropshipping products, you cannot assume that the items you are ordering originate with the seller. On many marketplaces, it is up to sellers to ensure that their products meet all local safety regulations.
In international logistics, importers must obtain an Importer of Record to demonstrate that their products are compliant. Sellers who do not use an Amazon IOR service provider are not allowed to sell on the platform, but other sites may not be so strict. Before you order any consumables, electronics, or potentially hazardous items, look up the seller’s contact information and ask them how they source their products.