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How to Stay Safe When Shopping Online in 2023

In recent years, online purchasing has become considerably more secure due to the availability of more secure payment gateways and fraud detection.

Shopping Online

Is it secure shopping online? In general, the answer is yes! In recent years, online purchasing has become considerably more secure due to the availability of more secure payment gateways and fraud detection.

Recent statistics indicate that there are currently 262 million online consumers in the United States alone or approximately 80% of the total population. Shopping online accounts for roughly USD 5,381 per person annually, on average, with over 55% of U.S. consumers preferring it to in-store shopping.

This increase in online purchasing was precipitated in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic. The attraction of physical security and the practicality of avoiding outdoor activities served as motivating factors for an increased number of individuals to choose the convenience of their residences. Recently, however, rapid technological advancements, such as the introduction of a multitude of delivery services and new mobile applications, have further propelled this shift, solidifying online purchasing as the preferred method for many.

Additional benefits of shopping online include the following:

  • Finding bargains and discounts is simplified.
  • A tranquil shopping experience devoid of intrusive marketers
  • Protection of privacy when purchasing sensitive or discrete items
  • Product comparisons across multiple retailers or suppliers are simplified.
  • Placing orders for gifts to family and acquaintances

The top 20 tips to stay safe when shopping online

Although shopping online offers convenience, it is not without its limitations. Frequently, online purchasing behaviors are monitored or tracked. You can, thankfully, take precautions to ensure your safety and anonymity. This holiday season, remain vigilant while purchasing by consulting our advice.

1. Stick to trusted retailers

Conduct a thorough investigation of a website prior to finalizing a purchase. Establishing a relationship with merchants with whom you have previously made purchases is an excellent starting point. Consider the following scenario: you are purchasing from an unfamiliar online retailer. Investigate their reputation by perusing customer reviews on Google, Trustpilot, and Yelp.

2. Check site security

Be on the lookout for SSL encryption on the website of a retailer. It is possible to accomplish this by examining the browser’s address bar for a secure icon to the left of the URL and ensuring that the website’s address begins with https as opposed to http.

It is critical to mention that HTTPS encryption remains operational irrespective of the VPN connection status. However, when combined, a VPN and HTTPS encryption will provide you with exceptional security.

3. Protect your personal information

Exercise utmost caution when disclosing information on a website. Provide only the minimal minimum of information necessary to complete a purchase, whenever possible. Caution should be exercised when receiving unsolicited phone calls or email requests requesting verification of account information. Retailers will never request sensitive information regarding your account, such as your date of birth or passwords, as a precaution.

4. Stay protected on public Wi-Fi

Without a VPN, conducting transactions over public Wi-Fi networks increases the likelihood that your traffic will be intercepted. Avoid online purchasing in public areas such as hotels, airports, buses, and cafes if you do not have a VPN.

5. Create strong passwords

In addition to implementing two-factor authentication, use robust and unique passwords when creating online accounts. Implement stringent measures to impede unauthorized access to your account.

6. Use online payment services

Utilize a secure payment gateway whenever possible, such as PayPal, Stripe, or Venmo. In addition to enhancing the security of your funds, linking an online payment service to your credit card rather than your debit card provides an additional layer of protection.

7. Be wary of fraudulent deals

A bargain that seems too good to be true is likely exactly that. A product that is significantly less expensive than those sold on other websites is almost certainly a counterfeit.

8. Monitor your statements

You can receive immediate alerts regarding the authenticity of any payment that is initiated through your online banking or payment services by enabling automatic payment notifications.

9. Use a VPN

Through a secure conduit, a virtual private network (VPN) will route your online traffic. Furthermore, acquiring a virtual private network (VPN) for online purchasing has the potential to result in cost savings. Locations may exhibit variations in the pricing of online stores and services, for instance. This is particularly true during Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

During critical purchasing days, merchants frequently implement dynamic pricing tactics by modifying prices in response to factors such as the user’s location, browsing patterns, and device. By utilizing a virtual private network (VPN), you can effectively alter your virtual location in order to capitalize on the most advantageous bargains, thereby optimizing your experience during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

10. Check if retailers accept credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted by online retailers and are supported by banks and financial institutions, making them a dependable method for conducting online shopping. Preventing fraudulent activities using this payment method is among the simplest tasks.

11. Research online reviews

Despite the increasing prevalence of fraudulent reviews on online marketplaces, it remains advisable to consult reputable review platforms such as Trustpilot. Be on the lookout for an excessive number of studies that contain language that is either extremely similar or exaggerated.

12. Type the URL directly into the address bar

Instead of opening the links in the emails, visit the websites of the retailers whose offers you receive via email by entering their URLs directly into the address bar of your browser. This will allow you to verify the legitimacy of the advertised deal and safeguard yourself against fraudulent connections.

13. Use a dedicated email address

By creating an email address dedicated solely to online shopping, the danger of spam can be reduced. Additionally, this feature ensures that your online purchasing endeavors remain distinct from your primary email account. Alternatively, you could conceal your primary address through the use of anonymous email forwarders.

14. Exercise caution when shopping from your phone

When feasible, prioritize using the official app of a retailer over utilizing mobile browsers to complete purchases. Because their destinations are unknown, connections from URL shortening services (such as Bitly or Google URL Shortener) should be approached with extreme caution.

15. Always log off after online shopping

After completing your online shopping, ensure that you have logged out of all of your accounts unless your device is used exclusively by you.

16. Install an antivirus or anti-malware software

Antivirus software installed on your devices will safeguard your online purchasing activities against potential security risks. Numerous reputable antivirus suites include browser extensions and add-ons that can be installed.

17. Don’t be afraid to complain

Complain strongly if the item you ordered fails to meet the retailer’s description, is damaged, or fails to arrive altogether. Complain with the retailer, reseller, website, or a state (or federal) oversight agency. In the end, you did make payment for your order.

18. Use a virtual credit card

Utilizing virtual or temporary credit or debit cards for online transactions is an excellent method to increase the level of security. Certain credit card issuers may issue quick card numbers that are derived from a previously used card. These can subsequently be utilized for unique or sporadic acquisitions.

19. Research physical addresses and phone numbers

Whenever possible, verify whether a company’s website contains verifiable addresses or phone numbers. Using Google Maps to investigate an address is a simple method to verify its authenticity. It is important to acknowledge that larger e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon, also permit third-party resellers to operate. In the event of any conflicts, Amazon will assume responsibility for resolving them.

20. Read the Terms and Conditions

Ensure that you comprehend the terms and conditions before purchasing anything online. Prior to buying gift vouchers, for instance, verify the legitimacy of the retailer. This can assist in ensuring that the card is accessible and usable by the recipient without any extra obstacles.

Safest Shopping Websites

In the dynamic realm of online shopping, safety is a paramount concern for consumers. Choosing the right platform ensures not only a seamless shopping experience but also protects your sensitive information. Let’s delve into the details of some of the safest shopping websites, understanding what sets them apart in terms of security and reliability.

1. Amazon

Overview: Amazon needs no introduction in the e-commerce world. It stands out for its extensive product range, user-friendly interface, and robust security measures.

Security Features:

  • Secure Payment Options: Amazon offers multiple secure payment methods, including credit/debit cards and Amazon Pay.
  • SSL Encryption: The entire website is encrypted with SSL, ensuring a secure connection for users.
  • Customer Reviews: Transparent customer reviews assist in making informed purchase decisions.

2. eBay

Overview: eBay is a globally recognized online auction and shopping website connecting buyers and sellers on various products.

Security Features:

  • Buyer and Seller Protection: eBay provides comprehensive protection plans for both buyers and sellers.
  • Trustworthy Sellers: The platform vets sellers, ensuring a level of trust in transactions.
  • Secure Payment Options: eBay supports various payment methods, enhancing user flexibility.

3. Walmart

Overview: Walmart, a retail giant, has successfully transitioned into the online marketplace, offering a wide range of products at competitive prices.

Security Features:

  • SSL Encryption: Walmart employs SSL encryption to secure user data during transactions.
  • Trusted Brands: The platform prioritizes products from established and reputable brands.
  • Robust Customer Support: Walmart’s customer support is responsive, addressing concerns promptly.

4. Target

Overview: Target, a popular retail chain, extends its reach through an intuitive online platform, providing diverse products to customers.

Security Features:

  • Secure Transactions: Target ensures secure transactions through encryption technologies.
  • Verified Sellers: The platform verifies and collaborates with trusted sellers.
  • Regular Security Audits: Target conducts routine security audits to identify and address potential vulnerabilities.

5. Shopify

Overview: Shopify is an e-commerce platform that enables individuals and businesses to create and manage online stores.

Security Features:

  • PCI Compliance: Shopify is PCI DSS compliant, ensuring the secure handling of credit card information.
  • Fraud Prevention: The platform employs robust fraud prevention measures to protect merchants and customers.
  • Secure Hosting: Shopify provides secure hosting, reducing the risk of data breaches.

6. Etsy

Overview: Etsy is a unique marketplace that focuses on handmade, vintage, and craft items, creating a personalized shopping experience.

Security Features:

  • Secure Transactions: Etsy secures transactions through encryption and secure payment gateways.
  • Seller Reviews: Transparent reviews help buyers assess the reliability of sellers.
  • Dispute Resolution: Etsy facilitates dispute resolution, ensuring fair outcomes for buyers and sellers.

7. Zappos

Overview: Zappos specializes in footwear and fashion, offering a vast selection of shoes and accessories.

Security Features:

  • Secure Checkout: Zappos employs fast checkout processes, safeguarding payment information.
  • Customer Reviews: Genuine customer reviews aid in making informed purchasing decisions.
  • Hassle-Free Returns: Zappos is known for its customer-friendly return policies, enhancing buyer confidence.

Fake shopping sites to avoid

At present, the digital landscape is infested with hundreds of thousands of counterfeit purchasing sites that masquerade as authentic retailers in order to steal your money and personal information. Although they may initially appear to be trustworthy, some indicators can assist you in recognizing and avoiding these fraudulent platforms. These consist of pixelated images, misspellings, and improper grammar, as well as amateurish website design and low prices.

There is typically an increase in the prevalence of fraudulent e-commerce websites during the holiday season. Scammers capitalize on the jubilant purchasing atmosphere during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Festive Season by enticing unsuspecting consumers with bargains that appear to be too good to be true regarding in-demand items.

Suppose you are in search of a precise compilation of fraudulent e-commerce websites or are interested in authenticating a specific platform. Consequently, credible organizations and websites are committed to monitoring and disclosing these fraudulent schemes. These consist of:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): A sovereign bureau of the United States government with the mission of safeguarding consumers and fostering competition. It offers consumers a variety of tools for identifying and reporting scams, such as bogus purchasing websites.
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): An advocacy non-profit engaged in the promotion of trust in the marketplace. It provides a forum for consumers to report fraud or fraudulent activities, in addition to locating and reviewing businesses. Additionally, it provides a comprehensive inventory of more than 300,000 ongoing online scams.
  • Scamwatch: An initiative administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that provides small businesses and consumers with guidance on how to identify, report, and prevent fraud. It provides an extensive assortment of resources pertaining to diverse categories of fraudulent activities, such as a compilation of counterfeit e-commerce websites.
  • Trustpilot: An extensively acknowledged digital review platform that facilitates the exchange of consumer experiences and viewpoints regarding businesses. Operating at an international level, it furnishes an all-encompassing synopsis of consumer feedback spanning numerous sectors. Try to locate a website that you suspect is a fraud on Trustpilot to see what others have said.

How to report a fake shopping site

Upon encountering a fraudulent e-commerce website, it is critical to initiate the reporting process immediately. You may do so directly through Google, Microsoft, or the FTC or FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) if you are in the United States. Contribute as much information as possible to their investigation regarding the grounds for your suspicion that the site is fraudulent.


Is online shopping safe?

Online shopping can be safe if you follow recommended security practices, such as using reputable websites, secure payment methods, and strong passwords.

How can I recognize phishing attempts?

Phishing attempts often involve unsolicited emails or messages with suspicious links. Be cautious and verify the sender’s legitimacy before clicking on any links.

Why is customer reviews important?

Customer reviews provide insights into the experiences of other shoppers, helping you make informed decisions about the products or services you intend to purchase.

What should I do if I notice unauthorized transactions?

If you identify any unauthorized transactions on your financial statements, contact your bank or credit card company immediately to report the issue and take the necessary steps to secure your accounts.

How often should I update my passwords?

It’s recommended to update your passwords regularly, at least every three to six months, to enhance security and minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

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