Savvy Online Shopping Series: My Online Shopping Tips
As I mentioned in a post last week, I had partnered with American Express to share some of my biggest online shopping mistakes – and then you shared many of yours. We’re also giving away $250 in gift cards and shopping credit – and you best be entering that giveaway soon because it’s about to end!
However, as promised, I wanted to share some of my OWN shopping tips, to help you shop better (and safer) online – and shopping online is one thing I’m pretty confident about – because I do it so often!
1. Use Familiar Web Sites
Yes, you will search and find crazy awesome deals at sites you never heard of. Be wary. Shop trusted sites, and you will have less reason to worry.
2. Don’t Tell All
There’s certain info that needs to be shared to make a purchase online. There’s other information no one needs. No online shopping store is going to need your social security number or your birthday to send you a new corset.
3. Check Statements
This is SERIOUS – one of my good friends was traveling last week and got 22 fraudulent charges in just about an hour. Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal (after all, there’s more than one way to get to your money). If you do see something wrong, jump on the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, don’t pay the bill until you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway!
4. Use Strong Passwords
How many times should you change your passwords? Often, and use good ones. And also try not to use the same password for everything – it may make life easier for you now, but it’ll also make it easier for a crook tomorrow.
5. Stay at Home
Don’t ask for trouble: NEVER use a public computer to shop online.
6. Wi-Fi Should Be Private
If you do decide to go out with the laptop to shop, you’ll be on a Wi-Fi connection. Only use the wireless if you access the Web over a virtual private network (VPN) connection. If you don’t get one from your employer, you can set up a free one with AnchorFree Hotspot Shield, if you’re willing to put up with the ads. By the way, now is not a good time to try out a hotspot you’re unfamiliar with. Stick to known networks, even if they’re free, like those found at Starbucks.
7. Count the Cards
Gift Cards are the most requested holiday gift every year, and this year will be no exception. Stick to the source when you buy one; scammers like to auction off gift cards on sites like eBay with little or no funds on them upon arrival. Also, once you get a card, keep track of how much is left – tons of money is wasted each year in unused gift cards!
What are some of YOUR online shopping tips – I’m sure you have some! Would love to add it to my list!