Although they are mostly known dates in the United States in the month of November, the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been expanding to many countries around the world. The large number of offers make these dates very attractive and generate, of course, an increase in online purchases.
And when we do not manage to finish enjoying the purchases made in November, we find that the Christmas season is already beginning, and the time has come to find gifts for our loved ones in different online stores.
Below we share a guide with some tips to help you make your purchases online as safely as possible.
Use una VPN
Our first tip is to use a VPN.
A VPN ( Virtual Private Network ) makes your traffic travel through a secure tunnel. This is very important when it comes to online shopping, since your internet provider can record your browsing and purchase history, and sell that information to different companies. With this information, these companies generate offers and promotions that are sent to you even when there has been no interest on your part in receiving them.
Furthermore, using a VPN for your online purchases can also help you get better prices. The prices of products and services in online stores may vary depending on where the store is. A VPN allows you to connect to different servers globally, so you can compare prices in stores around the world.
And while we’re on the subject of deals, take advantage of this one from ExpressVPN. You can enjoy three months free when you buy an annual plan. And you don’t have to wait for Black Friday next year to take advantage of it. You can buy this plan now and enjoy it for the next 15 months.
Only buy from trusted online stores
It is always safer to buy from stores that we know to be trustworthy and reputable. If you find yourself evaluating a store where you’ve never shopped before, you can take advantage of sites like Trustpilot and Yelp for referrals. With that, and a few reviews on Google, you can evaluate any new site where you want to shop.
The presence in social networks of a store can also be of great help when it comes to forming your opinion. You can use the accounts in the networks to evaluate your track record, the nature of your interactions with customers and the quality of your content.
It is important to understand the return and refund policies, the guarantees of your products and to know the payment alternatives. Although it is something that one hopes not to need, it is always good to know what we can do if a product does not meet expectations.
Check the security level of the website
One of the most important things to consider on a seller’s page is its SSL encryption. This is the fastest way to find out if your browsing and purchase history are protected.
Please review the following:
- The page address starts with ‘https’ and not with ‘http’
- The presence of a lock icon to the left of the URL in the search bar of your browser
Google Chrome and Chromium-based browsers provide a notification if the page is not secure. Firefox will have a warning with a red lock to indicate an insecure connection.
For additional protection, you can install the HTTPS everywhere extension. This extension automatically converts insecure “http” pages to secure “https” pages, whenever possible. HTTPS Everywhere is included as an ExpressVPN extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
It is important to mention that an “https” encryption works regardless of being connected to a VPN. But, the combination of a VPN and an “https” will keep you more protected.
Share only basic information
Evaluate the information that you will give to a web store in the case of creating an account to make a purchase. Do not share information that is not relevant, such as your date of birth.
If possible, shop as a “guest”. This way, you won’t have to create an account and your credit card information won’t be saved for future purchases.
Do not make purchases connected to public networks
Avoid making purchases on public Wi-Fi networks, especially if you are not using a VPN. This includes the networks available in hotels, airports, bars and means of transport.
From a digital perspective, you could be vulnerable to hackers intercepting your information on unsecured networks. From a strictly physical point of view, you don’t know if the person sitting next to you in a restaurant or hotel lobby is looking at your screen and recording their data for future use.
Use strong passwords
If you have accounts in different online stores, make sure your passwords are strong and try to have two-step authentication methods. This will make it more difficult for any stranger to gain access to your accounts.
Some tips for creating passwords:
- Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, with numbers, special characters, and spaces.
- Try to make your passwords long and not follow any logic. Do not use names or commonly used words.
- Do not use the same password to access different stores
Pay with secure methods
Instead of entering your credit card details on a page, use secure payment platforms such as PayPal. Using one of these recognized platforms will provide an extra layer of protection for your operation.
It is also advisable to use a credit card instead of a debit card. This is extra protection for your money, since in this way the seller does not make the debit at the moment, giving you the possibility to verify that your purchase has been safe.
Be on the lookout for potential scams
We all know the old saying: all that glitters is not gold. If a product that we find in a store has a much cheaper price than in other stores, there is a good chance that we are seeing an imitation. As we already said in this article, a good measure to know if a web store is trustworthy is to check its presence on social networks and reviews on different platforms. With this information and your common sense, you will be able to quickly realize if the offer is real and if your purchase will be safe.
Also avoid clicking on ads with poor resolution, or where the prices are too attractive compared to the rest of the market. An alternative is to go directly to the store behind the ad and verify the sale price and the product being advertised there.
Receive alerts of your expenses
Our last piece of advice: set your devices to receive a notification every time a charge is made with one of your cards. Also pay attention to your bank statements to make sure you spot any suspicious activity.
And now, to buy!
We hope that these tips help you to be protected while you shop online, and that your only concern is finding the best offer, or the perfect gift for your loved ones.