For anyone outside of the millennial generation, online shopping can be a daunting task. If you didn’t grow up on the internet, how are you supposed to trust it to safely, securely and accurately transmit and send you exactly what you want when you want it?
Online shopping is a beautiful world. When navigated correctly, it can eliminate unnecessary stress, provide access to thousands of different otherwise inaccessible products and save ample amounts of money, time, and energy. So for anyone teetering on the edge of the online shopping, here are 3 tips to successfully ditch the 4 wheels of a shopping cart for a virtual one (one that will never hit the back of your ankle).
- Finding Coupons & Deals
Most online shopping sites offer coupons or deals. Some are clearly visible on the shopping website, but others may be trickier to find, like coupons sent by email to subscribers. Luckily there are many websites that consolidate these coupons so you can browse and see if one applies to you. To find these coupon sites go to a search engine and type in either “coupons” or type in the name of your preferred shopping site and add “coupons” to it, e.g. “Gap Coupons.”
While many of the websites listed are safe to use, there are a couple things to keep in mind to be secure.
- Do not click any links on the coupon website
A link may send you to a website that can give you a virus or other issues. When you find a coupon on the coupon site, just write down or copy the code shown, then go to the shopping site and enter it when checking out in the designated area. Websites that accept coupons have an area in the checkout process for entering the coupon code. It’s often called "Promotion Code," "Apply Discount," or a similar phrase.
- Do not give the coupon site any personal information – email, address, credit card info, etc.
Only give that kind of information to the secure shopping website (see tip #3 on Safe Shopping Essentials). If the coupon site requires personal information for the coupon code, go back to your search engine and find a coupon site that does not require it.
- Join the Mailing List
Many websites offer discounts for new email subscribers or newly registered users. When you subscribe or register for the first time you will either be presented with a code to enter during the check-out process or you will be emailed a code and/or instructions.
Often websites will have a "pop-up message" that appears when you first enter the site that offers you a discount for registering or subscribing to a newsletter. If you do not see the pop-up, look for a banner or ad on the site’s homepage, either in the main area of the page, at the very top of the page or in the footer. If you don’t see it there, clear your browser’s cache or open a new ‘private browsing window’ (this is an option that most browsers have and can be found in the File or Tools menu) and go to the website again to see the pop-up message.
- Safe Shopping Essentials
When shopping on a site, make sure the site has a secure checkout process. To do this, look at the very bottom of the webpage for a security logo or security policy. Most online shopping sites show the logo of the company providing and/or verifying the security, or a link to the security policy from the footer of the page. For example, on the bottom right of pages on BestBuy.com there is a logo for “TRUSTe Certified Privacy” and on BulbHead.com, the security policy is linked from the footer.
Credit Card vs Debit Card
When possible, use a Credit Card versus a Debit Card. Should something go wrong, it is much easier to negotiate with a Credit Card company than it is to lose money directly out of your bank account.
Never Give your SSN or Date of Birth
Under no circumstance should any online store be asking for identifying factors like your Social Security Number or Date of Birth. The more information you give them, the more susceptible you become to identity theft. If you are about to purchase something from a site that is asking these sorts of questions, immediately close your browser without purchasing.
Check Your Bank Statements:
Now that you are online shopping, make sure you are regularly checking your bank and credit card statements for fraudulent charges. If you should see something that doesn’t look quite right, call your provider immediately to make them aware of the incident. Banks typically have a 30-day notification policy, so the more alert you are to your transactions, the quicker you will be able to rectify the situation.