shopping online

Too Nervous to Shop Online?

The biggest concern for all online shoppers is entering credit card information on the seller’s web page. Follow these tips and minimize your risk.

 
By: Natasha Morgan

If you’re a shopper who enjoys going to a store, searching for items and talking to sales people, then making purchases online would not appeal to you. However, if you’re like many of us who finds shopping tiresome, the internet could save you time, energy and maybe even money.

Secure Online Shopping
The biggest concern for all online shoppers is entering credit card information on the seller’s web page. Naturally, this should be taken seriously. Follow the tips below and minimize your risk.

Deal Only With Reputable Companies
If the name is unfamiliar to you, do some digging to learn more about their business. Most department stores such as Macy’s and big box companies like Costco have an online presence but don’t discount the smaller niche companies that can offer unique products. Ultimate Outlet is an example of a trustworthy online store that sells the latest women’s fashions at easily affordable prices.

Temporary Credit Cards
The temporary credit card works just like your regular card and the merchant will never know that it’s not your real card. Once you’ve registered with your bank, you will get a temporary credit card number, expiration date and security code. You can then start shopping and not worry if some criminal is sending your confidential information to websites around the world.

Beware of Fraudulent E-mails
Thieves have become tech-savvy and they are able to build websites that imitate those of well known businesses. For online shopping, always enter the merchant’s website directly and not through a link provided in an e-mail.

Other Considerations Before You Purchase

Choose the Right Size
This is not the time to be vain or careless. If it’s too small or too big, you will not wear it, sleep in it or put it on your coffee table. Many online stores provide sizing charts or dimensions of items. Use them and be realistic or you’ll end up unhappily returning the merchandise.

Bargains and Warehouse Sales
Many online retailers have a “Sales” area where you might find clearance items at very low prices. As in a bricks and mortar store, the goods on these pages maybe limited to size, color or available quantity. However, it’s worth checking as you might be lucky and find a bargain. But, beware that this merchandise may not qualify for return or exchange.

Check the Return Policy
If there isn’t one, move on to another store. Most companies specify return time limits, whether they will refund your credit card or simply give you a credit note. Many offer instructions on how to return the item along with shipping labels. Some will even post a free return shipping policy.

Shipping Prices and Delivery Options
The cost of shipping can vary depending upon how soon you want your purchase delivered. Both courier companies and the post office have set price breaks. Be sure to check the appropriate box on your order.

Sales Tax
This is an often misunderstood topic. Generally, almost everything you buy at your local shop is taxed at the state’s retail tax rate. However, most online retailers do not charge shoppers tax unless the store also runs a business in the purchaser’s state. These tax laws are constantly under review. Check it out before you buy so you won’t be surprised.

Should I Register?
Registering on a website is usually an option but most online retailers encourage you to create an account with them. If you choose to do so, you’ll be able to track the progress of your shipments and make repeat purchasers without re-entering all of your information. By adding your e-mail address and opting in, you’ll receive promotional messages.

Contact Information
Look for a Customer Service Phone Number and/or e-mail address on the website.
If you need more information or anything goes wrong while you’re shopping you’ll want to contact a responsible agent of the company who can answer your questions or resolve your problem.

If you’re still nervous about shopping online, consider how many times you hand your credit card to a waiter, gas station attendant or cashier. Are you always sure it’s not being illegally swiped? You would only discover the theft of your personal information when you review your credit card statement. If you remain diligent, you can minimize your risk whether shopping personally or online.

About the Author:
Natasha Morgan is a staff writer for www.notjustthekitchen.com. For more than ten years Natasha has written articles pertaining to Baby Boomer women.

Photo: Ritesh Nayak