How to Shop Online Safely and Securely

Shopping online is a wonderful thing. You can sit in total comfort, curled upon your sofa, cup of coffee in hand, roaring fire, and you can shop to your heart’s content. You don’t even have to carry the shopping bags, as a very nice delivery driver does all of that for you a few days later.

What a wonderful invention!

Of course, there is a downside to everything positive in life, and in this case it is the pitfalls that can occur when you aren’t sure how to shop online safely and securely. There are many unscrupulous folk out there, who are keen to take the money of innocent shoppers. It’s up to you to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge to ensure your online safety.

Luckily, it’s not really that difficult to ensure that your online shopping experience is a positive one, and there are just a few rules to remember.

Check out the site’s reputation

Stick to sites that you’ve heard about in a positive light, e.g. big named brands, sites you’ve seen advertised on TV or in magazines, and ones your friends use regularly. Lesser known sites are often low in reputation for a good reason.

Use a Credit Card or PayPal

Credit cards offer extra protection in case of fraud, so whenever possible use your Visa or MasterCard credit card. In addition, rather than sending money directly, e.g. to a person for a private sale, always use a site like PayPal, which acts as a third party and sends the money much more safely.

Check the payment link is secure

On the check out screen, before you enter any details, check the link is secure. You can do this by looking at the address bar and you should see a padlock image, and the beginning of the address should be ‘https:’. These are both signs that the site is secure and you can go ahead and enter your details. If you don’t see these two signs, don’t proceed. In addition, if you are transferred to a third party site to complete payment, e.g. PayPal or World Pay, check for these two signs again.

Use a firewall and online protection

As a baseline minimum when surfing the Internet, regardless of whether you’re shopping or not, you should have a firewall activated, and you should have up to date and active anti-virus and anti-spy software installed. This will go a long way to ensure that your payment details aren’t cloned and stolen when being entered online.

Keep your passwords safe

The more obscure your password, the better! Of course, make sure it’s not so obscure that you forget it, because it’s never a good idea to write them down. Always make sure you log out of sites once you’ve finished shopping too.

As you can see, it’s not rocket science to shop online in a safe and secure manner, it’s just a case of knowing what to look for. If you see an amazing deal on a website that just looks a bit dodgy, then don’t even attempt it. It’s likely that the deal is there to attract hapless buyers, who will enter their details and end up with a very bad deal instead. Always go for reputation, even if reputation costs you a tiny little bit more at the checkout screen.

If you can remember all these points, you’re free to curl up on your sofa of an evening, surfing the Net for amazing deals, and then waiting with anticipation for them to arrive on your doorstep a few days later!

A wonderful invention indeed!

How to Avoid Those Impulse Buys

Impulse buys are the devil. You don’t intend to do anything, you don’t intend to spend money at all, you’re just going to look, window shop, not spend a penny – you end up with a check out screen that is certainly a lot more than ‘not a penny’, and a sinking feeling of guilt. Hey, at least you’ve got a new pair of shoes to look forward to though …

The thing is, did you need that pair of shoes?

Probably not.

Online surfing of an evening is the modern day version of going into town on a Saturday, just to ‘have some fresh air’. No Saturday afternoon in town ever consisted of just fresh air, it usually consisted of a credit card purchase of some kind. Hell, I even went out on one of those ‘fresh air’ trips and came back with a holiday to Florida booked.

As I said, impulse buys are the devil.

The Internet has made it easier than ever before to purchase absolutely anything without even leaving the house. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want to. Of course, internet shopping is a great thing in many ways, but it is also a breeding ground for impulse buys that we might end up regretting later.

So, how can you avoid those impulse buys, and save your bank account at the same time?

Resist, resist, resist!

Good old will power is probably the best and most obvious answer here. Ask yourself tis very question before you click ‘buy now’ – Do I really need this? Like, really? The answer is likely to be no. Your mind will be saying ‘but it’s so cheap, it’s a bargain’, but be strong! Walk away from the laptop and think about it for a day or so; if you still want it, you can always go back later.

The ‘fake’ shop

I found this next tactic very successful. Basically, I tricked myself into thinking I was shopping, and it actually gave me the same thrill, except I didn’t end up buying anything. Bear with me. I headed to my favourite online clothing shop, and I went through all the new range. Anything I liked, I put it in my basket. The whole thing took about two hours, and my basket was brimming. At the end, I put the laptop down and had dinner. Then, I went back to the site and looked at my basket. It turned out that the thrill of filling up my basket with whatever I wanted was enough, and I didn’t end up buying anything at all. Try it!

Don’t shop when you’re hungry

This is about online grocery shopping, but it’s a huge no no to do your shopping when you’re hungry, thirsty, craving anything, etc. You will only end up throwing everything in your basket (virtually, of course), and then when it is delivered you’ll a) be wondering what on earth you’re gong to do with four tins of custard, and b) have no space in your kitchen to store it all. Oh, and your bank account will be crying. You probably didn’t even get half of the things you really needed, because you were too busy looking for delicious treats. Instead, do your shopping after dinner, ideally when you’re really full and feeling like you totally over indulged.

These three tactics always work for me, and I am someone who is very easily swayed by an online bargain, so that should tell you a lot about their effectiveness. Save your actual purchases for things that matter, and you’ll feel much more fulfilled.

Is Online Shopping Addictive?

Do you think that being able to buy whatever we want, no matter what the time of day or night, is addictive?

By that very statement, you would have to say ‘yes’.

Shopping in itself has been shown to be addictive. There are many cases of compulsive buying, obsessive buying, call it what you will; the evidence stacks up that shopping gives us a hit that we crave, an instant gratification, and something which makes us feel better, just for a few minutes. Of course, as with any type of addiction, that high doesn’t last for long, and before you know it, you’re craving it again.

Many people joke about being a shopaholic; ‘oh I’m a shopaholic, I can’t stop buying shoes’, but the fact is that it’s really not something to joke about. Shopping addiction can ruin lives, it can bring someone to their knees financially, and the secrets that are told to cover up excessive spending can be the deal breaker in a relationship. As you can see, a real shopping addiction is no laughing or joking matter.

Now, with conventional shopping, you actually have to put your coat on, go outside, usually travel just a short distance at least, and go to the shops to buy something. For some people, the effort of actually doing that is enough to put them off. However, with online shopping, you don’t even have to go outside, you don’t have to brush your hair, you don’t have to put your shoes on, you don’t even have to get dressed. The online shopping world is awake and open for business 24/7, 365 days a year. There are no opening and closing hours, the online shopping world wants you to be its room mate.

For anyone who already has a slightly addictive personality, or someone who is prone to a shopping addiction, the availability of a purchasing high at all times can be dangerous.

Emotional buyers find that it is easier than ever to get that quick hit they need to feel better for a short time, but then the guilt comes in, the realisation that they shouldn’t have spent that money, and the worry about what to do if their partner/friend/family member finds out. It’s a vicious circle that is actually worrying, and because it can be accessed at any time, it’s one that is hard to control.

Could You Become Addicted to Online Shopping?

Are you someone who loves to shop? Most of us do, but most of us also have an ‘off’ button, i.e. we know when we have to stop. We might want to buy something, we might even pour over it on the internet and research it, pining for the day when we can afford it, we might even somehow convince ourselves that our life is going to be ten times better when we get it, but we don’t actually do anything about it until the time comes when we can realistically afford it. That is a normal situation.

What is dangerous and abnormal is when that urge to buy something becomes all encompassing, and the ‘off’ switch can’t be found; it has malfunctioned, it has become stuck and won’t budge. This is when online shopping can be a danger.

So, how can you combat it?

The only way for someone with a true shopping addiction to stop is to acknowledge the problem and seek help. We’re never going to get rid of online shopping, and we shouldn’t have to – online shopping is a wonderful thing when used in the right ways. Managing a shopping addiction is certainly made harder by the ability to be instantly gratified online, and the anonymity of it, it can also be conquered.

Which is Better, Online Shopping Vs Conventional Shopping

Shopping is a wonderful thing. Not only is shopping a sociable kind of deal, a way of getting new things (always a bonus), but it’s also a form of therapy – they don’t call it retail therapy for no reason!

Online shopping and regular shopping both give you the same outcome – new things, but they give you the same thrill? And, does one have more upsides than the other?

Deciding between the two can be a personal deal; some people prefer to be able to sit at home and do their shopping, without having to get up and go outside in the pouring rain. On the flipside, some people prefer to go out and look at items in person, enjoying the experience of shopping.

Which one do you prefer?

I like both ideas, but at different times. For instance, I prefer to do my Christmas shopping online, because I can’t bear the crowds during the holiday season. At other times however, I like to go out on a Saturday afternoon and spend a little time looking around the shops, stopping for a coffee, and perhaps buying myself a little treat. I like to be able to have my purchase in my hand straight away, and not have to wait for it.

There is a place for both types of shopping in our world today, and they can live harmoniously side by side. If you had to pick a winner though, which one would it be?

Let’s pit them against each other, and see who wins.

Online Shopping

Obviously, the beauty of online shopping is that you can buy whatever you want without even leaving the house. You can sit there in your pyjamas of an evening, sipping hot chocolate and looking through endless websites before deciding what you want. You don’t have to carry any bags, because they are delivered to your address at a later date. You can pay using your credit or debit card, and you can even use PayPal, so you don’t even have to reach for your card and enter the numbers.

Basically, online shopping allows us to be super lazy and still be rewarded for it. There is also the case of better bargains and more choice available online.

The downside? You have to wait for whatever it is you’ve bought, and when it arrives, what if it doesn’t fit you? There is also much more chance of an impulse buy when you’re shopping online. As for online security, this is something you need to be careful of.

Conventional Shopping

Shopping with friends is a sociable experience, and even heading off on your own for an hour or two can be a pleasant thing. Conventional shopping allows us to go out and get some fresh air, enjoy time away from our four walls, and to do our shopping in a more traditional way. Of course, you also take your goods home with you, without having to wait for them.

The downside is that you have to carry shopping bags, you have to contend with crowds, and there could be less choice on the High Street, compared to online.

As you can see, both have pros and cons, and a clear winner is very hard to pick. Personally, I’d declare it a tie. I like both types of shopping, and I would never like to see conventional shopping totally swallowed up by the online world. Similarly, I want to have the chance to shop in my pyjamas at home too.

I say embrace shopping in all guises, there’s room for them both!

The Best Ways to Pay Online

When we part with our cash for goods or services, we want to know that we’re in safe hands. We want to know that our cash is going to the person it is supposed to go to, we want to know that we’re not going to be paying hidden fees, and we want to know that everything is above board and legal.

When we pay online, we don’t have the safety net of actually giving money to a physical person, like we do when we shop in-store. This can actually put some people off paying for items on the Internet; many of the older generations actually refuse to pay online, because it seems too good to be true, and it seems too easy to go wrong. Whilst we can’t deny that there are risks, provided you choose the right payment method and you know that the site you’re using is reputable, you’re good to go and totally safe.

So, what are the best ways to pay online? And, how can you be sure you’re doing everything safely?

Your best choices are:

• Credit and debit cards
• PayPal
• World Pay
• Gift cards

When you use a credit or debit card, i.e. Visa or MasterCard you are actually getting a certain amount of protection in case something goes wrong. For instance, if you use a site which isn’t reputable and you never receive the good, you can claim back on your credit card and hopefully you will be refunded. If a site offers the choice to pay with credit or debit card, it is also a sign that it is much more reputable than a site that doesn’t allow you to pay this way.

PayPal is also a very safe way to pay. This is because you are putting a third party between you and the seller, offering you security. If your PayPal account is linked to your bank, the company you’re buying from won’t see your details, they will simply see that you have paid via PayPal, and from there, PayPal will send the money. World Pay is a similar deal, they are a third party site who are reputable and are connected to various card companies, including Visa and MasterCard. You will often see that you are redirected to a World Pay site to complete your payment, and this is perfectly safe, provided the top of the address bar displays a padlock sign, and a ‘https’ before the website address.

If you have a gift card, e.g. if you recently had a birthday and someone gave you an Amazon gift card, you can use this to pay, by simply redeeming the cost of the order against your card. This will be deducted from the balance. Obviously, you are only going to use the reputable site the card is connected to in this case, so it’s super safe!

Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is starting to become a little more mainstream, and there are some companies who are now accepting this as a payment method. If you have Bitcoin or other digital currencies, you basically pay in exactly the same way as you would with PayPal or a credit/debit card, except the value of the order will be deducted from your cryptocurrency wallet, rather than your actual bank account. Whether this will ever go totally mainstream depends on how well these types of currency go in the coming years, but there are some opportunities to use them at the moment.

These are the only ways you should ever attempt to pay for goods or services online. Never give your bank details to anyone; a reputable site will never ask you to do so, and this is a sure fire sign that you’re dealing with a scam.

Will Online Shopping Ever Totally Replace Conventional Shopping Methods?

Shopping is a wonderful thing. Sure, some things are more fun to buy than others; booking a holiday is infinitely more enjoyable than doing a weekly grocery shop, but there is a reason why it is called ‘retail therapy’ overall.

Shopping gives us an emotional high, an adrenaline hit, and whilst it serves a practical function too, it is something which many of us enjoy socially too.

Do you do most of your shopping on the Internet, or do you venture out to the physical stores? Do you do a mixture of both? Most of us would say that we are a mixture of the two, and that we like it that way because it gives us variety. The only thing is, you only have to look around the average high Street to see that there are more and more stores closing every year.

Our growing online shopping habit is impacting the High Street, because more companies are seeing an online buying trend, and deciding to send all of their custom online instead. Stores dwindle, just a few remain open, before they close completely. It’s a sad state of affairs, and it begs the question, will online shopping every totally replace conventional shopping?

To answer that question, it really depends on the industry. For instance, if we are talking about the tourism industry, then there is a very real possibility that we won’t see any High Street travel agents for many more years to come. Most of us book our getaways online, and most of us certainly book our flights via flight search websites, to get the best deals. Once upon a time we used to head to a travel agency store without fail, pouring over brochures for at least an hour, with a patient agent sat waiting for us to make a decision. This was just the way we all did it back in the day. Now it’s all different. We do the same thing, but in front of a laptop, at any time of the day or night. We also find a cheaper deal as a result.

Now, if you compare that to grocery stores, you’ll see a big difference. It’s unlikely that you will ever not see a supermarket on the High Street. We all need to pop to the shops for a pint of milk or a loaf of bread, ad we all need to do the odd ‘top up’ shop mid-week occasionally. Whilst we might all end up doing our ‘big shop’ online, because it’s so much easier and we don’t have to carry the bags, we will always have the need for a physical supermarket. Will these stores get smaller? Possibly so, but it’s unlikely they will disappear.

Now, clothing. That’s one which is debatable. Technology is the same.

Most of us still like to go out clothes shopping, because it means that we can try an outfit on and see how it looks and fits. Having said that, we usually mix that experience with a fair amount of online clothes shopping too, because there is more choice available, and we can take advantage of discounts that aren’t available on the High Street. Does this mean that clothing stores will be obsolete? More and more are disappearing, but hopefully there will always be some around.

Technology? That’s a difficult one. Buy tech stuff online is cheaper for sure, but the ability to go into a store and ask questions, play around with it, and see how the technology that we hopefully won’t lose. We’ve almost lost book stores, which is a crying shame, so let’s see what else falls by the wayside as the next few years progress.

The Rise of Online Shopping

When the Internet first burst into our lives, we were all a little skeptical. What we this new-fangled thing, available 24/7, and allowing us to literally searching for anything, whenever we wanted?

It all seemed a little too good to be true.

The Internet really came to being in 1983, but it wasn’t until the 90s when we all slowly began to find it seeping into our lives. Whilst online shopping didn’t really burst onto the scene straight away, more of a slow burn, it is now a hugely prominent part of our lives, and one which probably couldn’t find ourselves doing without.

eBay and Amazon came to be in 1995, but even then we all remained a little unsure. These were the times of sending letters in the post, booking a holiday on the High Street, and still being a little skeptical about mobile phones. Over time however, we became a little more used to the idea of the Internet, and slowly we started to utilize its power more and more.

eBay and Amazon didn’t have massive success straightaway, but nowadays they are giants, and most of us use them at least once a month, if not once a week. Most of also use the Internet to purchase goods and services at least every couple of days, if not daily.

How times have changed!

Online shopping began with flowers, chocolates, smaller items. Over time, we began to think about purchasing technology online, because the latest technology trends were hard to buy on the High Street at that time. Clothing came next, and then came holidays. Online holidays began to slowly replace the old Teletext system, where cheap deals could be found. Many High Street travel agents began to price match the deals found online, encouraging more users to head onto the Internet to search for their next break.

Finally, grocery shopping headed towards the online realm. You don’t have to head to the supermarket after work, or drag yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning to stock up your kitchen cupboards. You don’t have to struggle home with the bags anymore, you can have it all delivered to your door; it’s even packed in bags for you!

A Huge Rise, Will There be a Decline?

The Internet has simplified everything, but online shopping has changed our lives completely. We can now find serious deals at the click of a button, and we can spend more time looking, because we can just do it all in our living room at any time of the day or night.

So, with such a huge boom, is there likely to be a decline on the cards?

Signs say no, in fact signs predict that online shopping will continue to grow to even higher levels. You only have to check out the regular High Street to see the effect online shopping has had – there are more and more stores closing and companies sending their business online instead of in person. Yes, this is the major downside of our ability to be able to shop at any time of the day, because conventional shopping is suffering because of it, and jobs are being lost.

Is this a sign of the times however? We have to move with the times, and if that means that people are working for online companies rather than in person, then perhaps that is a road we simply have to go down. One thing is for sure, online shopping isn’t going anywhere for a very long time, if at all. If we want to progress, we have to accept.

Now, grab that coffee, find the laptop, and shop ‘til you drop!

The Advantages of Shopping Online

Whenever a new invention or new way of doing something comes into our lives, it’s normal to be a little skeptical. We don’t like change, we’re programmed to like routine, but when online shopping burst into our lives, we quickly embraced it.

That is probably because online shopping has a huge number of advantages, and not a lot of downsides.

If you’re still on the fence abut whether you should be shopping in the virtual world, check out these advantages, and be prepared to make more online purchases.

Available 24/7

If you don’t have time to rush to the shops before they close after work, you don’t have to! The online shopping world never closes, it is open 24/7. So, even if you decide to grab your laptop at 1am and do your grocery shopping, it’s perfectly acceptable!

Fits in with your busy life

As we just mentioned, online shopping can be done at any time, so you can easily fit your shopping in with your life, no matter what hours you work. You can also arrange for delivery at any time when it comes to grocery shopping. Even if you’re not in when your order is delivered (regular parcels), you can either arrange for it to be left with a neighbor, or you can head to a collection point and pick it up in your lunch hour. No fuss!

You don’t have to battle the crowds

Perhaps this is why so may people opt to do their Christmas shopping online these days. You don’t have to battle with big crowds or stand in line for endless amounts of time. You don’t even have to speak to anyone!

No need to carry bags

If you don’t have a car, going grocery shopping can be a chore. Not only do you have to carry heavy bags, but you have to somehow transport them back on a bus, or pay for a taxi. This doesn’t work out to be particularly cost effective, or a great way to spend your time. With online shopping, none of that is required – a wonderful delivery driver brings it to your home, in fact they bring it directly to your door!

Better choice and better deals

The best discounts and deals are always online, which is why many stores offer to price match an online deal these days. You will also find that the choice of products is much larger, as a store can only stock so much. This means you can choose from a greater range, and find what you’re really needing much easier.

You can take your time

There is no rush when you’re shopping on the Internet, and you can take your own sweet time. You can even fill your basket part way, go and do the dinner, and then go back to your shopping a few hours later. Not being rushed also means you’re less likely to make impulse buys, because you have more time to think about it.

You can research items much better

If you’re buying a large item, perhaps a household appliance, you will be able to read about the specifications and also check out reviews, before making your decision. If you do this in store, you can often feel rushed into making a decision, and end up with a product that doesn’t really suit your needs.

Are you convinced yet? The major advantages of online shopping is that it fits in with the busy lives we all lead. Our lifestyle have changed over the last few years, and that means that our shopping needs have also changed. Online shopping gives us an opportunity to find what we need, without having to stress ourselves out any further.

How to Spot an Online Shopping Scam

The world is a wonderful place, but there is always a slightly dodgy underbelly waiting to unearth itself. The Internet has brought us all manner of fantastic opportunities, and many ways to waste away our time, but it also has a slightly darker side that we need to be aware of.

You will no doubt have heard of cyber attacks, online hacking, and identify theft, and whilst these are a by-product of the positive things the Internet has brought us, the good news is that there are ways to be more aware, and to therefore prevent these unfortunate events happening to you.

The most likely situation which involves an online shopping scam is a site which is trying to look like a reputable one. This could be a copy, a direct imitation, or it could be a site which promises the world, and delivers nothing at all.

Awareness is key, so what should you be looking out for when trying to spot these scams?

Reputation is everything

Business is about reputation, so if you’ve never heard of a site, or it has bad reviews, then you should sit up and take notice. Research the site and see what comes up on Google.

Check the payment security

If you put something in your shopping basket and go to the payment screen, check the payment security before you put any detail in. Is there a padlock in the address bar? Is there a ‘https’? If not, the site isn’t secure, and therefore it is seriously dodgy. It’s worth mentioning however that even this sign alone isn’t guarantee the site is real, so always use this in conjunction with the other signs.

Is it too good to be true?

If they are offering you the world on a plate, i.e. the discounts are seriously large, then the chances are this is not a real site, and it’s a big scam. Whilst it’s great to get a bargain, we can all spot the difference between a good deal and a ‘too good to be true’.

Is the site good quality?

Have a look at the site carefully. Is the English shoddy? Does it look professional? There is no reputable site on the planet who would happily put out their site with spelling errors on, or a poor layout.

A questionable site address

Check the site address. Is the word spelled correctly? What is the domain ending, e.g. is it .com, .co.uk, or is it something else? A reputable, high quality site will have a professional domain name.

What are the payment options?

If the site doesn’t offer you the chance to pay by credit card, it is one you should avoid. You get a certain amount of protection when you pay with credit cards, e.g. Visa or MasterCard, and scam sites won’t offer this option for that reason – they don’t want you to have protection.

Check out the contact details

Are the contact details a little shady? For instance, does the email contact look like someone’s personal email account? Is there any contact detail listed at all? Again, a reputable site will have a range of contact choices, and they will appear professional.

What is your gut telling you?

Finally, perhaps the best way to spot an online shopping scam is by listening to your gut. If your instinct is telling you that there’s something not quite right, then you should listen to it. Our gut very rarely steers us in the wrong direction.

Whilst online scams are certainly there, the ways to spot them aren’t particularly difficult. You only need to know what to look for, and you should be able to steer yourself clear of any potential pitfalls.