Shopping online is no longer a preference, it has become essential
to daily life, whether you are stocking up for another week of lockdown,
replacing that quirky boiler part or getting Grandchildren’s birthday gifts. The
onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has generated an unprecedented increase in
popularity for online shopping. New or inexperienced shoppers make up a large
portion of this increase.
Here are some simple steps to keep you safe as you continue
to enjoy safe shopping online.
Let us start with common sense. Look out for bad grammar or
spelling on the website. Legitimate websites do not tend to have a lot of
spelling mistakes. Scam websites do. Always check the URL or
website address at the top of the page, to make sure it looks legitimate.
Pay particular attention to the words just before the .com, .co.uk or ie. If it looks odd just
google the website and visit directly. Remember tesco.randomword.ie is not
the same website as tesco.ie
A good way to spot a secure website sits in the top left-hand
corner of the browser.
As the page loads, a
little padlock icon sits innocently on the top left hand corner. If there is a
red line through this lock, or the wording ‘not secure’, the site is quite
simply, not secure. This is no reflection on the retailer of website owner’s character. It means that they have not purchased a
Digital Security Certificate or SSL cert for their site. Some retailers are also new to the online
shopping and hastily upgraded websites may well have overlooked this important
item. This is not your concern. You need to shop safely. Trust is essential and Google recommend
digital security certificate for all sites, even those that are not commercial.
It is Google that marks the lock icon as safe or unsafe.
An SSl cert verifies the identity of the website. It codes,
conceals and protects sensitive information with SSL (Secure Socket Layer)
encryption. Google Search Engines use SSL certificates to rank websites and do
not promote those who don’t have one, for obvious reasons. If the lock is not
on the website you have chosen, then it is not advisable to purchase.
Don’t use public Wi-Fi to make purchases. This is probably not a problem at the moment
unless you are walking 2km to access free Wi-Fi from some obscure place. Public
Wi-Fi is, well, public. Therefore your information may be too. Bookmark or save the page and purchase later when
a trusted Wi-Fi source is available to you.
If you are setting up an account for your favourite online choose
your Password carefully and do not
use the one that you have used before. Even with secure sites, it makes sense
to reduce the amount of personal information you reveal. You should never use a
password repeatedly no matter how handy it makes thigs for you.
Paying for purchases online can be the scariest step of an
online purchase but things have gotten a lot better for consumer security when
it comes to card payments and most high street banks are now employing Strong
Customer Authentication (SCA) to add
extra layers of security to our online buying. This can be
irritating but it is a huge help in the fight against fraud and
PayPal is a reliable and secure method of making payments. It
does not give your credit card details to anybody but protects that vital
information and just sends the payment to the retailer.
Shopping online is a godsend at the moment. In normal times, it is convenient and offers
a wider range of choice. It is likely that online shopping will remain an easy
and preferred option long after the Covid-19 pandemic has become a distant
memory. It can be a great experience if we just follow our instincts and some amazingly