Online shopping has become one of the most popular ways of getting the products that you need. Whether it is for fashion, housewares or grocery shopping, online shopping is high in demand in this new technological era.

An online store refers to a type of business that uses a website or an application connected to the internet as a means of carrying out its transactions. It constitutes the main tool of electronic commerce.

As per statistics from the International Trade Administration, there were 27 million online shoppers in Canada in 2022, accounting for 75%of the Canadian population. It’s important to stay safe when you’re shopping online.

Here are some tips to keep safe while online shopping.

Use Reputable or Familiar Websites

Always shop at a trusted website. One thing to look out for is the spelling of a website. Make sure that the website you are shopping at has the correct spelling of the online store.

Most major online retailers will have secure websites to shop on. One way to tell if a website is secure is to look for “https” at the beginning of a website’s address. If you do not see the “s” at the end of “http”, then the site is not secure. The “s” ensures you’re viewing a secure website.

Additionally, if you see a padlock icon next to the website name, it means the site is secured. This means that any information sent between your browser and the website is sent securely, and can’t be intercepted and read by someone else while the information is in transit.

Create Strong Passwords

When shopping online, you’ll probably be prompted to create an account with the online store. If you do create an account, make sure that your password is unique and is preferably not the same as your other passwords. This ensures the safety of your information.

Use Your Credit Card

When shopping online, it’s best to use your credit card or payment services like PayPal. There are risks with using your debit card to shop online. Your debit cards are linked to your bank accounts which puts you at higher risk of someone being able to gain unwanted access to your information.

There are protections put in place if credit cards are compromised and used without your permission. If your credit card is used without your consent, banks can typically handle the fraudulent spending and will not charge you if you provide a valid explanation. In contrast, if your debit card is compromised, you lose the money that was in your bank account and it could take a while to recoup these funds.

Check Your Statements

It should be a regular practice to check your banking statements to ensure there are no erroneous charges to your credit cards. Avoid waiting for your bill to come at the end of the month and check your bank statements regularly, especially after high spending seasons such as the winter holidays.

Avoid Public Online Shopping

It’s tempting to purchase an item at a free hotspot if you see great deal that’s about to expire. A hotpot at your local café or restaurant are places where hackers like to lurk as the public networks are not secured. Avoid logging in to banking sites or payment sites like PayPal in a public hotpot and make sure you are logged out of such sites if you do connect to a public network.

Update Your Device Software

Don’t hold off on updating your device software. Software updates are often released to improve security and prevent malicious attacks from happening on your devices. Next time you see an alert for a software update, go for it.

Statistics of Online Shopping Scams

As per a study, 78.8% of consumers victims of online purchase scams worldwide lost money in 2020 (source: Statista). Practicing safe online shopping habits and being vigilant with the websites you visit should significantly decrease the chances of obtaining fraudulent charges to your banking and payment accounts.