Shopping malls remain favorite local destinations, but more people now opt for the virtual route for their retail fix. We now have a wealth of choices when it comes to products, sellers, payment options, and delivery modes. And we got to admit that shopping’s much better while we’re on our couch, in our PJs, and with the TV on in the background. Online shopping’s main promises are that it is quick, convenient, and secure. But it also has plenty of pitfalls. Before you start clicking, keep these rules in mind.
It’s the most basic aspect, and also the most overlooked. Make sure they’re legitimate. Ask friends and relatives if they’ve already transacted with specific sellers. Check if they have official websites with a full catalog and detailed “About” page. This means the proprietors’ names are published along with their office address and contact details, so you know exactly who you’re dealing with.
We don’t recommend buying from sellers who use only social media to move their products. There are trustworthy sellers on social media, but as a personal rule we transact only with those who have official websites.
One more thing. Regularly read customer reviews. It’ll show you how these sellers deal with compliments and disputes, and how they may deal with your problems and feedback.
Lock it down
See if the sellers’ websites have SSL enabled—look for that little green padlock on your browser’s address bar. No SSL, no purchase.
We also recommend using only your own laptop for transactions, and while connected to your own secure home Wi-Fi or VPN. If you must do online shopping on your mobile devices, use the retailers’ or companies’ official apps, if available.
Always make strong passwords for every online shopping account you make. Use password generators, or make your own combination that you can easily remember. And never ever give out your passwords and personal details.
Be careful with money
Most banks now offer credit and debit cards specifically for online transactions. These cards come with special security features, and keep the racked-up online purchases separate from your main credit line. Check out BPI eCredit, BDO Virtual Card, or Metrobank ON Internet MasterCard.
You can also go for bank deposits and even over-the-counter payments made through outlets like 7-Eleven or SM. Several online retailers offer these options, and while it can be slightly inconvenient, it takes some online transaction-related stress (e.g. hacking) out of the equation.
Online retailers only need to know your name, delivery address, and payment details (if you’re not using services like PayPal). Don’t give them anything more than that.
Also, don’t buy more than what you can actually afford. It’s easy to get carried away with online shopping, but remember, there’s absolutely no need to keep up with the Joneses. Live within your means.
Watch like a hawk
Monitor your monthly card billing statements and shopping accounts closely for any dubious transactions. Report any incidents immediately.
We also strongly recommend that you double-check every seller/company’s policies on returns and exchanges. Also, read up on your rights as a consumer. Visit the DTI’s website for a few helpful consumer tips.
Keep it real
You know what they say: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Let common sense override your excitement, and don’t click on that Buy button just yet. Think about it and see if it really is a fair deal for both sides.