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How To Safely Shop Online.

online shopping

Some people ask, why shop online when you can have the painful-pleasure of roaming around in the extreme weather conditions of India, sweating or shivering (depends on the months :P) and trudging along the heavy shopping bags you managed to hold together after such meticulous attempts? Exaggerated much? But yes, if not all, some of us do loathe the idea of getting our lazy bums out of the house, leave alone to shop? And that too in an era when online shopping is all the rage? I am a convert, definitely.

With the online merchants striving to present, anything and everything on the whole wide world, and that too with discounts and secure payment options, what’s not to love? But just as a coin has two freaking sides, so does this at-home shopping experience comes with a dreaded edge, online frauds and cyber crimes. This does not mean you should steer clear from online shopping, it just means to act wise and be safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before filling your carts.

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Buy only from trusted sites.

Anyone who is an amateur in the field of e-commerce can tend to feel lost in the huge numbers of online shopping websites that have popped up these days. Whereas many of them are genuinely authenticated, some of them can be fabricated; cyber scam alert! How to make sure that the website you chose is reputed and has genuine products? Trust your fellow buyers experiences and reviews, and of course your own instincts. But it is always better to do your personal research beforehand.

Confirm the website’s URL.

Be what may, a website’s URL, if looked at closely, can give you an idea whether the site is bona fide or forged. Take a few seconds out, and check whether the URL has a https:// or http://. Authentic companies will always use a URL with https or shttp; the ‘S’ denotes that the website is encrypted and your information is secure. Apart from this, look out for any spelling errors or any additional characters such as ‘-’, ‘@’, ‘&’ or ‘#’ in the URL. Such websites are more often than not counterfeit. Beware!

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Give out only the bare minimum of your personal information.

We have all heard that cyber criminals are always on the prowl, and it does sound somewhat dangerous; at least to me. Isn’t it better we make sure that our personal as well as financial information stays secure and away from the reaches of such fraudulent people. First of all, during online shopping, you need to fill only those fields which are marked as mandatory or required. Do not fill out the entire form. This will help you from giving out any extra information which could be used against you. Secondly, check the website’s privacy policy to see in what way are they going to store and utilize your personal info.

Keep a paper trail of all your transactions and online receipts.

No matter how convenient a computer looks while saving information, it is always a good idea to get a hard copy of the monetary transactions and online receipts and keep them with you securely. This helps you to keep a track record of your orders and even enables you to get a copy of the guarantee of delivery (if any) offered by the website. Who does not like guaranteed supplies? It would b e so much more convenient if you could also make a note of and trace the personal contact information of the vendor, who is selling his goods to you through the website.

Choose credit over debit cards.

Credit cards are the way to go when it comes to shopping safely, and that too online. First of all, credit cards are oh-so-convenient; secondly they have a limit to the monetary amount you will have to pay in case your information is stolen by some disreputable cyber criminal. Not to forget the fact that if you use a credit card to clear your payments, you can always ask for a credit from the issuer in case he promised merchandise is not delivered.

And make sure to check your credit card statements as soon as you receive them. In case you sense any discrepancy or inconsistency, report it to your bank to evade additional losses.

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Be wary of exaggerated offers.

Who does not love discounts? We at The Curvy Princess surely do! But if a deal sounds too fine to be true, it most likely is. Minor discounts on certain goods are understandable and are most welcomed. But if you sense anything being sold at a price way less than the actual MRP, hear the warning bells playing nearby (Picturize the “golmal hai bhai sab golmal hai” song being played in the background). Most certainly, either the products would be counterfeit or destroyed in some manner or the other. So, stay away. Period

Read the details of heavily discounted sales.

Having said that too-good-to-be-true offers are a big NO; flash sales, and holiday, festive discounts are something which we all look forward to. Though the products delivered are rarely bogus, (or so does my personal experience say) but there is a high chance that the return or exchange policy of goods on such sales are not what you would have anticipated them to be. So examine the details cautiously and make sure that the product you are buying gives you full liberty of returning or exchanging it, if what you happen to receive does not appease you.

Pay closer attention while investing in electronic gadgets.

Oh yes, we totally understand that feeling when an iPhone, worth 26k is being sold at 16k or less at a flash sale. Bliss, isn’t it? Maybe it is for some, but unquestionably not for those who want an authentic warranty card along with their gadgets. Most of the merchants selling electronics at a reasonably lower price do not end to give the customers a warranty card which is a major problem for some us. After all we all are in a habit of manhandling our phones and other gadgets. Do your research before buying gadgets online and make sure that the vendor provides you with a valid warranty card at the time of deliverance.

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Pay close consideration to the shipping and return policy of the website.

This point has been emphasized enough by now, but just in case you forget. The second most important thing, after secure monetary transfer, is a quick return or exchange policy. Almost all renowned sites provide an estimated date on which the delivery of the promised goods is due. Make sure to inquire about your goods if the delivery surpasses the estimated date by more than 2 days. All of us want a hassle free experience, so better do a quick research about the exchange policy of the site, especially if you are buying something which needs proper fittings, like shoes, clothes or lingerie.

Make sure to look out for any additional or hidden costs such as packaging and delivery costs.

Read the website’s PRIVACY POLICY very carefully.

Almost all presumed e-commerce websites offer their privacy and security policy to their clientele. Take a few minutes out, and go through it. Check in what ways is your safety, both personal and financial, secured by the website. Whether or not they share your information with a third party, and in what ways is your information stocked and utilized by them.

If you do not want the website or the third party to spam your email, chose to opt out of any email subscriptions of any kind.

Use a clean and secure device.

Sure you all got what I mean by using the term device, obviously your computer or laptop! By clean I do not mean sparkly clean, what I mean is check out your software on a regular basis for any unsightly pop-up or malignant viruses; keep the security of your computers updated. S

Secondly, do not shop on a public computer; it comes with all other kinds of risks. Avoid, saving your credit card information with the website, stop being lazy and re type it each time you need it. It is so much more worth the effort. Lastly, always switch off your computers after having made your online transactions, do not give way for scammers to invade your device.

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So that is basically it. Do not let the long list of do’s and don’ts make you think of online trading as something which you should be wary of. Instead take this little guide as something which would help you be a well-read shopper who knows her rights and can be acclaimed as a smart-shopper. After all, the exhilaration of waiting for your goods to arrive, packaged in all their glory is something worth the risks.

Happy shopping to you. 

 

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