Online shopping 101: How to tell if a website is safe

Online shopping has become the norm for many people. Why leave the house and go to a physical shop when online shops are just a few taps away on your smartphone?

Many people have asked that same question and concluded that online shopping is better. However, online shopping can also be potentially dangerous, especially if you don’t know how to differentiate between a legitimate store and a scam.

With so many people spending money online, more people are also trying to steal it. And being able to differentiate between a legitimate website and a scheme is not as easy as you might think.

Scammers have become good at their craft, and they employ several methods to try and trick customers. Nonetheless, you can learn a few things to ensure your safety. 

This article will explain how to check if a website is safe so you can avoid any potential scammers or hackers.

How can you know if an online shop is safe?

You can check a few things to ensure that the website you are visiting is safe. Here are three things we recommend.

1) Check their HTTPS and SSL certificates

A good practice when shopping online, or using any website, is to check if the website uses HTTPS and SSL Certificates. You only need to look at the website’s URL and ensure it begins with “https://” instead of “http://.”

The S stands for Secure. Websites employing HTTPS and SSL Certificates encrypt the data transmitted between your device and the website. This makes it much harder for hackers to access sensitive information you’ll need to share with the website.

2) Look for a Trust Seal and verified reviews

Dedicated firms certify online businesses based on their legitimacy and safety. That’s why checking for a Trust Seal, or Seal of Approval, is an excellent step to understand whether the website is secure. More often than not, certified online stores will wear such badges proudly, and you will be able to see them when you first land on the page.

Another way to check for a website’s credibility is by checking reviews. You can check the reviews on the website itself, but some websites are entirely dedicated to reviewing online shops. Those websites usually give a safety score to each store. Additionally, they’ll usually have a space for user reviews for each site.

3) Only use secure payment methods

Legitimate and safe online shops have secure payment methods to ensure your financial data’s safety. When it’s time to pay, you will usually be redirected to a secure page designed exclusively for payments. These pages are safer than those that only use HTTPS and SSL Certificates because they employ added safety measures. 

Using trusted online payment methods like Paypal is also advised. Those services are designed for online purchases and have several protection systems, including returning any stolen money. 

How to protect yourself when online shopping

You can also protect your data in a few ways, despite the possible dangers you may come across when online shopping. Here are three suggestions.

1) Use a password manager

Password managers are designed to create, manage, and store passwords. Using one will allow the software to create very strong and complex passwords that will increase the safety of your accounts exponentially. This also means that one hacked account will not lead to many. 

Since the passwords generated by this type of software are almost impossible to remember, the program lets you quickly access the credentials of each account so you can log into the website you want. 

2) Monitor your accounts and credit report

This one is common knowledge, but it’s also something many people fail to do. Regularly monitoring your accounts is quick and easy and could prevent you from losing money. 

Fortunately, with so many accounts being compromised daily, banks have started to employ payback systems where they quickly give you back any money lost due to hackers. 

3) Avoid public Wi-Fi and using a VPN

Public Wi-Fi networks are great when it comes to offering free access to the internet. However, these networks usually don’t provide much security. Most public networks are unsecured, and hackers can easily compromise. 

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is the best way to protect your device and data when navigating public networks. It encrypts the data transmitted between your device and the network you are using.

Take care and shop safely

Despite the convenience of online shopping, you should always ensure that the websites you use are safe and secure.

Checking for the signs described in this article, such as checking for HTTPS and SSL Certificates, reading reviews, or ensuring that the payment method is secure, are great ways to increase your safety.

Software such as a password manager and a VPN is also a great way to increase your safety during online shopping. Consider all these recommendations, and you’ll be sure to have a safe time making your next online purchase.