- Anti-Virus, Spyware, and Firewall – Make sure they are all ‘Enabled’ and up to date. If not, you should never browse the web.
- Know Your Retailer – If you are unfamiliar with the company, make sure there is a phone number and physical address. Call the number and ask some questions.
- Retailer Reviews – It is just as important to read the reviews about the retailer as it is about the product itself. Some popular reviews sites are Bizrate, Google Checkout Reviews, and the Better Business Bureau.
- Product Details – When buying online, it is also important to know what you are buying. Read the specifications and details. Most of the information on the product is usually there for a reason.
- Product Reviews – These reviews can be very insightful in making a decision. Unfortunately, there is no policing or monitoring of product reviews, so it is safest to take a middle path. We are never 100% sure who wrote the review and its validity.
- Shipping – This can become the biggest problem when purchasing online. Make sure you read the details on shipping service level, transit time, important delivery instructions, and most importantly – what to do if your order gets damaged or lost.
- Personal Information – Only provide your information if the site is secure. Do not email credit card numbers, account numbers, or any financial information. A site is secure when the address at the top of the screen shows ‘https://’.
- Shop Around – One of the main benefits of buying online is the ease of shopping with your fingertips. You are not taking true advantage of buying online if you don’t at least check 3 sites.
- Pay with Credit Card – This is the most secure method of payment because it allows the consumer to dispute the charges and undergo investigation if there is a problem. All other methods are proven more risky.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi – Just avoid them. It is never completely secure.
- Fine Print – Read all the policies especially in regards to return and exchange. If a website does not have a returns policy, it does not mean that you get to write them yourself. It basically means to move on to the next retailer.
Online Shopping Guidelines
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