How to shop online safely

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Friday, Dec 22, 2017
Photo: AFP

PETALING JAYA - How do you stay safe while shopping online?

Think before you click

The Internet is full of links or URLs (uniform resource locators) that connect users to locations/sites.

With phishing attacks on the rise, be wary of links in e-mail or chat messages, especially unsolicited ones.

If you get an e-mail with offers that sound too good to be true, check the validity of the sender's e-mail address and the links provided.

Next, check whether the site the link is pointing you to is legitimate.

For example, Lazada's official Malaysian website is www.lazada.com.my and not any other variation like www.lazada.net.

The ability to spot discrepancies in the URL could go a long way towards keeping your online shopping experience a safe one.

Know your seller

There are thousands of merchants selling products on popular online marketplaces like Shopee, 11street, Lazada and Amazon.

While the steep discounts offered by some might be tempting, it's best to check the product details thoroughly: in addition to the product model or specifications, note the seller's rating, customer reviews, available warranties (if any) and whether it is shipped locally or from overseas.

You can also contact the seller directly and ask questions before deciding to buy.

As more and more brands set up official stores on online market­places, it's best to shop directly from them or other reputable sellers.

There are also orders that are fulfilled by a well-known brand (such as Lazada or Amazon), which provides the seller with picking, packing and delivery services.

In this case, should anything go amiss with your order, there is a reputable name to go to in the event of any problem with the purchase.

Graphic: The Star/Asia News Network

Verify the website's security

As the popularity of e-commerce grows, so do the pitfalls users face when buying online.

Before completing a purchase online, customers are usually required to key in their credit card or bank details.

Always check whether or not a site is secure before doing so.

Look to see if the browser's address bar shows HTTPS in the website's URL. Usually, there is a padlock icon to show that a site is secured.

Today, most browsers such as Chrome and Firefox do come with built-in security measures to warn users of suspicious websites and downloadable files.

Use a strong password

Many of us are guilty of complacency when it comes to passwords. Whether it's for online shopping, surfing the Internet, banking, social media or streaming services, many people tend to use the same password across the board.

A security breach at any of the services you use may leave all your digital accounts compromised - which is why the experts advise having different passwords for different accounts.

Create unique and complex passwords at least 15 characters long with upper- and lower-case characters, numbers or special characters.

Even better, set up two-factor authentication for e-mail services.

It might make logging in more troublesome at first, but you will be grateful if unauthorised users try to sign in to your account.

Avoid public WiFi

Getting connected to high-speed Internet is easier than ever thanks to the numerous public WiFi hotspots available. However, you may want to think again before connecting to one, especially for online shopping. Most public WiFi networks are unsecured.

Now that most telcos offer a large amount of monthly data, it is probably better to rely on your own data to surf the Internet.

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