Safe Shopping Guide

How To Shop Online Safely And Effectively

Online shopping has grown increasingly popular, especially during the recent pandemic. It offers a convenient way to support small businesses, but it's important to ensure that you're shopping with a legitimate business. Below are some tips to help you navigate the world of online shopping safely and effectively.

Benefits of Online Shopping

Online shopping offers numerous benefits, including:
  1. Convenience: Shop anytime, anywhere, even in your pajamas at night.
  2. Door-to-door delivery: Save time and effort with home delivery or curbside pickup.
  3. Gift delivery: Send gifts directly to the recipient.
  4. Discover new stores: Find unique items not available in your local area.
  5. Easy package tracking: Use apps like Shop to manage your online purchases.
  6. Support small businesses: Your money goes to hardworking entrepreneurs or families.
  7. Buy from anywhere in the world: Live where you want and still buy what you need.
However, with the increase in online stores, it's crucial to ensure you're shopping with a legitimate business.

Identifying a Legitimate Business

Here are some ways to determine if a business is legitimate:

  • Professional website: Look for a well-designed website with minimal popups.
  • Pricing clues: Be wary of prices significantly lower than competitors.
  • Clear product photos: legitimate businesses provide clear, unique product photos.
  • Customer service: Check if they respond timely to inquiries and offer customer support through their contact methods.
  • Policies: Look for clear shipping and refund policies. Often these are found in the footer area at the bottom of the website.
  • Business history: Check how long the store has been around and their social media presence. A unique "About Us" page and engaging social media pages indicate a credible business.
  • Social proof: Check what other consumers are saying about them. You can often search the name of the business plus "review" on Google to see if there are good/bad reviews about the business.


Online Safety Tips

Stay safe online with these tips:

  • Use fraud prevention software like Norton or Avast to help you spot reported scam website.
  • Maintain good security practices. Change your passwords regularly and don't reuse passwords across platforms!
  • Avoid using public WIFI for online shopping as personal information can be collected by others connected to the same network.
  • Pay using a credit card or Paypal for more protection. These services offer ways to dispute a charge if the order doesn't arrive or if the business turns out to be a scam.
  • Pay attention to the web address. It should start with https://, indicating SSL certification.

What To Do If You've Bought From An Illegitimate Source

If your order didn't arrive or the store isn't responding, try these steps:

  • Contact them using details from their website.
  • Check store policies for shipping times and delays.
  • Reach out to your card issuer or file a dispute in Paypal's Resolutions Centre.
  • Provide as much evidence as you can to support your case.
  • If you suspect the store is using Shopify, then you can also report the store so we can review it further.
  • Remember, the store controls product quality and shipping times, but not shipping delays or damage caused during shipping.

Conclusion

Online shopping offers convenience and the opportunity to support small businesses. However, it's important to stay safe and shop smart online. Trust your gut, and if something doesn't feel right, move on.

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