Tips to Stay Safe While Shopping Online

Laptop surrounded by gifts with hands typing on the keyboard

You spend a lot of time planning and browsing for holiday gifts. As retailers prepare to roll out their deals for the upcoming shopping season, people are buying gifts online more than ever. Here are some things to consider to make your holiday shopping more secure.

Do Your Research

Shopping in general can be an exciting affair. It’s fun to buy things for yourself and for others. You may have spent a lot of time thinking about what you want to get, and now’s the time to buy.

Before you run off to buy that gift make sure to do a little research on the seller, especially if you’re shopping online. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this a reputable company and website?
  • Do they have reviews, complaints, or even a valid address?

An absence of these things could signal that you might want to look elsewhere. In the end, if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Taking the time to think through and spot these oddities will help ensure you have an enjoyable and safe online shopping experience.

Spot a Fake

It is easy to get lulled into security when shopping online. For many, it is a habit, and an assumption that the sites we’re shopping on are all safe. Some sites go as far as mimicking popular well-known retailers to trick you. You’ll see this in the form of an email or as the actual website. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Look closely at the URL. Scammers will use a URL that looks slightly different from the original. An example may be a website ending in .biz instead of .com ( versus for example).
  • In an email, a way to spot a fake is to look at the email address of who sent it. It may look legit, but it’s not. Something as simple as a typo could put you at risk while shopping without recognizing the mistake. If it feels and looks off, it’s likely not a site you want to deal with.

Text Messages

Many customers are starting to see more and more companies utilize text messages to promote current or upcoming deals. These texts usually include a link to the promotion. If you’re unsure about the validity of the sender, it’s a bad idea to click on the link. Acting on messages from your phone can be a challenge because it can be harder to spot a fake website when it’s on a mobile device. A better option is to search for the company website, which will help give you a bigger, and clearer view.

Stay Secure, or Stay Out

Have you ever noticed a lock icon next to the website address bar in your browser? This signals whether a website is using secure HTTPS connection. If you see it locked, you’ll know that it’s a secure page. Not every website is required to have this connection, and some browsers like Chrome will mark sites without this lock as “not secure.” If you don’t see the lock it’s best to leave and stay away.

There is a lot of value in shopping online. Many retailers create online only deals for customers. However, it’s important to be safe while doing so. Staying aware of scams while shopping online can save you a lot of headaches this holiday season.