Do you even remember the times before you could shop online? Thanks to Amazon, Costco, Walmart, and all the other major retailers, it’s easier than ever. Not only can you find what you need online, but it’s often cheaper too!
Online shopping has become so popular that it’s now a $4 trillion industry. While it has also gotten much safer during the last few years, it doesn’t mean it is risk-free. Here are five red flags you need to watch out for the next time you decide to shop online.
1. Fake Websites
You have your favorite places where you like to shop online. Hackers are well aware. So, what they do is, create counterfeit versions of popular platforms. Then they send you an exclusive offer that leads you to this fake version of the site. Everything looks normal enough, so you check out and put in your credit card details.
As you might guess, this is where it all goes wrong. You’re not only not getting your new hat, but the hackers have stolen your payment details.
It happens not only in online stores but also in other sites that ask you to log in. It’s essential to make sure a website is real before you ever input personal details. The easiest clue is a little lock icon in your URL bar. It means it’s an HTTPS or a secured website. Always check to see that it is there.
Note: Not all sites use HTTPS, and some HTTPS sites can be fake too. Always compare it with information like the web address and other factors to determine site authenticity.
2. Deals That Are Too Good To Be True
The internet is an ideal place to find the best deals and promotions. But some things are too good to be true. While finding an article of clothing for 30% off is reasonable, seeing a brand-new iPhone or MacBook Pro for $20 doesn’t make sense.
Fake discounts like these are also a way for cybercriminals to fool you and then steal your identity or money on your bank account. If not hackers, then it can be advertisers trying to get a hold of your data to sell you things. Either way, it’s something you don’t want happening to you.
3. Auction Websites
There’s nothing wrong with auctions like eBay. You can find tons of rare and fantastic items there. The problem is with some of the sellers. They may ask you to do things like wire payments, provide your personal information, download software, or take conversations outside of official channels.
All of these are red flags. Never provide any more information than you need to and keep all exchanges within platforms, so you have a record of them. Finally, if anybody ever asks you to download software, report them immediately.
4. Knock-Off Products
The internet wasn’t the first marketplace for counterfeit products. But it certainly made them much more widespread. One of the reasons you might be getting a low price is that you’re buying a “Guci” instead of a “Gucci” bag or a “Stansang” instead of a “Samsung.”
If you already know that it’s a knock-off (and you don’t care), then enjoy. But be careful not to get tricked. Likewise, knock-off electronics are way different from fake designer clothes. Electronics can have all sorts of problems you don’t want to deal with.
5. Unsolicited Promos and Deals
It can be pretty convenient to get promo codes straight to your inbox. But you must know where they come from. If you signed up to be on H&M’s email list, then it makes sense to receive an email with a 20% off promo code. On the other hand, if you receive something from out of nowhere, then that is a bad sign.
Cybercriminals steal email addresses from web platforms all the time. No matter how good the promotion is, don’t accept it unless you are sure it comes from a verified sender.
Protect Your Online Shopping
Other than watching out for these red flags, protect your payment details from other threats too. Whenever you pay for anything online, make sure your virtual private network (VPN) app is on.
What is a VPN? It’s a software that routes your internet traffic through a remote server, encrypting your connections. Why is a VPN necessary? When you use a VPN, third-parties (like hackers) can’t see what data you submit (or where) online. So it protects your data in case a legit e-shop site doesn’t use HTTPS protocol or you pay for goods via public WiFi. Click here for more: https://nordvpn.com/what-is-a-vpn/
Next, delete your cookies after each browsing session. Cookies are trackers that websites use to identify your computer. If a site recognizes you as a frequent visitor, it may increase the prices. If you delete cookies, each time you get a fresh start.