How to do your shopping online?
Online shopping is a growing trend all over the world, also in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. No wonder, since online shopping is a very easy and convenient way to buy whatever you want whenever you want without leaving your home at all.
There are just a few things you must be aware of to make online shopping a safe experience. The first thing you want to make sure is that you buy only from a reputable merchants, so that you get what you ordered and that you can be sure that your personal information like your credit card details do not get into wrong hands.
The reputable merchants
- Have on their website all the essential contact information: the phone numbers, street address and email addresses for more information and technical support.
- Have a website that is easy to use, uses secure encryption methods and have all the legal details (like how to make a payment, what is their return policy etc.) written so that they are clear and easy to understand.
It is always also worth a try to search Internet for the reviews on the merchant and ask your friends, neighbors or relatives if they have used the services of the merchant.
How to shop online?
You need to go on the merchant’s website in order to do the shopping. If you don’t know the address for the website you can use an Internet search engine to find you the right address.
Online stores will normally display pictures and descriptions of their products on their website. You choose the items you wish to purchase by adding them to your shopping cart. You can add and remove items form the shopping cart until you finalize the sale by paying for the items on the check out. The most common way of paying for the shopping is by using a credit card. Your shopping is delivered directly to you.
Safety of online shopping
There are a few things you should know about making shopping online safe and to protect your personal details. Below we explain what to watch out for to avoid disappointments.
1. Protect your private information
Make always sure that the site is responsible about using and sharing the information you do give.
Don’t give out sensitive information unless it’s absolutely necessary to complete the transaction.
Online stores and financial institutions often require customers to register to use their services. The customers are asked to provide personal information like address and phone number before completing a task. If you are new to online transactions, this may seem suspicious. However, they are also designed to help protect customers.
The e-commerce sites and financial institutions ask for personal information as they need to complete your transaction or to verify that you are who you say you are. They also want it to offer you a more personalized online experience. By remembering who you are, they can present special offers and target suitable recommendations specifically to you.
Many companies give you a choice on their site as to whether, and how, they will use your personal information. Some Web sites ask for information up front in forms you fill out or offer options you choose by checking boxes. Making this choice is known as ‘opting in’ or ‘opting out’ of receiving these offers. Sometimes just by buying something, you tacitly opt in.
Please note, that freebies, such as free trials, are becoming a popular way to plant spyware on computers. (See [How to protect your computer against computer viruses] for more info on Spyware)
When you set up an account or finalize a sale at check out carefully review any checks in boxes. Some sites assume the right to share your information and check the boxes for you. Responsible Web sites will give you a way to opt out.
2. Create a new password for each site
Most online shopping sites will ask you to create a password. Don’t use the obvious, such as your birthday, nickname, mother’s maiden name, phone number or the brand of your car. Use six or more characters mixing letters and numbers and use upper-case and lower-case letters if possible. Try to create a new password for each site you use. Never share your password with anyone.
3. Review the privacy statement before you shop
4. Use a secure browser
Your browser should comply with industry security standards such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Secure Electronic Transaction (SET). These standards encrypt (scramble) the purchase information you send over the Internet, ensuring the security of your transaction.
A safe site will show a symbol of an unbroken key, a picture of a closed lock, or a Web address that begins with “https.” (Look for the letter “s”.) In addition to locks and keys most browsers also display a warning message before you send information to a site. This dialog box should inform you whether you’re sending to a secure or insecure site. You may cancel at this point if you wish.
5. Never email your payment information
Never send payment information via email as it is not totally secure. All reputable merchant sites use encryption technologies that will protect your private data from being read by others as you conduct an online transaction. Some of them allow you also fax or call in your credit card information, if you do not want to send them via Internet.
6. Keep the records
You should keep records of your Internet purchases just in case a problem occurs. Always print out all the important information about your purchase, payment and delivery details. Check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity by either calling your bank or visiting your financial institution’s Web site.
7. Watch out for viruses
Ensure that your computer has the latest anti-virus software installed before shopping online. See [How to protect your computer against computer viruses] for more information.
8. Different ways of paying for your shopping
There are many alternative ways of paying for your shopping. See your merchants website for the different options.
Providers that offer alternative payment methods, such as charging directly to a phone bill, electronic funds transfers, and electronic checks, should handle these transactions through a secure server or a payment gateway that encrypts the information, making these methods a safe means for consumers to purchase goods. With an EFT, phone bill charges, and debit cards, funds are verified before the purchase is complete, reducing the risk of fraud and insufficient funds returns.
To make sure you get what you want when shopping online check the Internet merchants’ refund policies before you pay; some merchants set a deadline for returns or charge a fee to accept returned merchandise.
Buying over the Internet is fun and easy way to do your shopping. If you follow the simple rules explained here above you can enjoy a hassle free shopping experience from the privacy of your own home!