One of the best things about the internet is the instant access it gives us to products and goods. In just a few clicks, we can purchase original, handmade crafts from all over the world or artisanal coffee direct from small-batch producers. We can also research online and find unique products.
All of these benefits do have a few drawbacks, though. One of these is routinely passing our sensitive financial information to sellers, while simultaneously hoping that their systems and payment portals are secure.
In addition, not every retail website on the internet is a legitimate choice. Unscrupulous sites are rife, and there are plenty of (often hilarious) instances of people receiving goods that are a far cry from what they thought they were ordering.
Staying safe online while shopping is a matter of being savvy and having the right tools for the job. With that in mind, here we review three ways to make online shopping more secure based on ExpressVPN’s tips for safe shopping.
Make Sure Your Virtual Private Network (VPN) Is Switched On
VPNs encrypt your online traffic through a process known as tunneling. If you can imagine your internet traffic as a car, with a VPN switched on, that ‘car’ travels through an additional stop from A to B that provides a much-needed layer of security. Plus, it helps protect your traffic from any potential snoops.
That’s not the only benefit though, with a VPN, you are able to access location-specific deals as your true physical location isn’t revealed to the retailer’s site. For instance, if you want to shop on an Australian website, connect to an Australian VPN server to access potential savings.
HTTPS, otherwise known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is a protocol used to ensure secure communications over a computer. It’s the next step up from HTTP, which is now considered less secure and untrustworthy.
Most retailers use HTTPS as standard these days. However, some smaller online stores may still be running the older HTTP security certificate. It’s easy to tell whether that’s the case; all you need to do is look for the lock icon to the left of the browser’s address bar.
If you still want to purchase off a site, but there’s no HTTPS lock icon designating its security status, consider the browser extension HTTPS Everywhere. Note that the extension’s creators are discontinuing its use in 2021 as the protocol becomes de rigueur.
Trust The Retailer
Find a deal that seems too good to be true? It probably is. For example, if you’ve seen a product that normally retails for $600 up for grabs for $100, you should be suspicious, especially if the site was promoted on social media.
Plenty of fraudulent sellers will use legitimate photos of the product to promote a cheap, knock-off version that in no way resembles the original. In addition, it’s very easy for sellers to quickly set up a dropshipping store and promote and sell products that they’ve never seen in real life.
Whenever possible, check the sites you shop from, or at the very least research the domain. If the site has only been in operation for a month, proceed with extreme caution and don’t spend big.
Follow the tips above and enjoy the miracles of the internet, a veritable shopper’s paradise, safely and securely.
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