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Tips for Online Shopping

woman in red shirt holds credit card and young girl in a yellow shirt sits on her lap and holds a computer

Want to save on time and avoid crowds this holiday season? You can get all of your holiday shopping done from the comfort of your own home. Online shopping has been on the rise, and is increasing every year. While it is incredibly convenient, it’s also important to stay safe while browsing the internet from home. Below are some tips and tricks to get the most out of your online shopping experience and stay safe throughout the process.

1. Set a Budget and Stick to It

It’s easy to go overboard with your shopping list for the holidays. Ideally, we want to buy gifts for everyone we love. Unfortunately, this isn’t always realistic. It’s important to set a budget ahead of time, especially if you’re planning to do your shopping online.

After you’ve made your list, go back over it and see what you can scale back on, whether it’s homemade gifts, a cheaper option, or perhaps just a holiday card. The most important thing about the holidays is showing that you care for your loved ones, and that doesn’t always come in the form of a gift.

2. Shop the Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are completely worth the savings. When doing your shopping from the convenience of your own home, you can shop at odd hours to try to beat other shoppers to a sale, find coupons, and take as much time as you need.

3. Use a Coupon Finder

Want even more savings? Coupon Finders can help you find deals and many of them do the work for you! Check out the Top 16 Coupon Apps for 2021!

Staying Safe while Online Shopping

Staying safe while shopping online is essential and there are many factors to consider. You’ll want to make sure the products arrive in a timely manner, arrive in the quality you expect, and that there is a way to return the products or get support with any questions or issues you may have. The tips below can help you stay safe while shopping online.

1. Always Use a Secure Connection

If the computer you’re using isn’t protected from malicious software, your financial information and passwords could be at risk of being stolen. This seems obvious, but not many computer users in the US population use appropriate security measures. Always use a secure connection and make sure your computer’s firewall is on. Additionally, it is important to avoid making any financial transactions while using a public network, because you might not know if it is compromised.

 2. Know the Merchant and Their Reputation

It is important to shop at online stores that you trust. If you’re shopping at a local store online or a retailer you trust, you can always contact them in person or through their customer service if there is a problem. If you don’t know the store, that’s ok, you may just have to take a few more precautions. Curate your own background check by looking at sites that review online stores. If it hasn’t been reviewed or even looks suspicious, don’t order from their website.

3. Avoid offers that seem “too good to be true”

This is an easy thing to use as a red flag while online shopping. If a store is offering or promising too much or providing a low price it is suspicious. If the price is too low, it may be a cheap substitute instead of the item shown. It could also be a way to get your financial information without actually providing you with the purchased goods.

4. Don’t use an Online Store that Requires Unnecessary Information

There are certain pieces of information you can expect to provide an online store such as a payment method, shipping address, phone number, and email address. If the online store is asking for other information such as your social security number, bank account information, or even your driver’s license number it’s definitely a sign to walk away.

Companies may ask questions about your interests, but these should always be optional and be a cautious shopper when providing information. Question the company’s motives and be careful. Look into the site’s privacy policy so you can see how your information is collected and if it is shared. A lot of stores clearly state that they do not share, sell or borrow consumer’s information, while others say they own your information and can use it however they choose. It is vital to shop to companies that respect your privacy.

5. Create Unique Passwords

At times, a store may ask you to create an account with a password when you make a purchase. Usually, there should be an option to check out as a guest. If there isn’t a guest check out option, this can be a red flag. If you do want to make an account, make sure you choose a unique and strong password.

6. Is the site secure?

A quick way to tell if a site is secure is to check what the web address begins with. If it begins with “https:” that means it’s secure. The “s” at the end let’s you know you can trust it and it will protect your information.

7. Use a Credit Card or PayPal

Refrain from using a debit card as they do not have the same security protections in place for you should a problem arise.

Credit cards offer more protection and limit your liability to no more than $50 of unauthorized charges if your financial information is stolen. A good option is to allocate one credit card that is only for online shopping and transitions. This way, if that card gets compromised, you can quickly shut it down without impacting any other type of transaction.

Stay safe this holiday season by keeping the above things in mind and trusting your gut. If a site looks suspicious, trust your instincts and shop somewhere else! Enjoy the holidays without worrying about your wallet!

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