30/12/2016 09:10 GMT | Updated 31/12/2017 05:12 GMT

Seven Tips To Shop Safe This Holiday Season



One of the most celebrated shopping season is right around the corner. It is during Holidays when all the major stores are filled with swarms of people, trying to purchase stuff on a good deal.

Though, it is considered by many as the best season to shop, with many brands giving away the best deals of the year, it can also become quite a hassle for potential shoppers.

Traffic in malls and stores is usually at its peak during these days. It's almost impossible to find relevant staff to fulfill your queries since they are usually busy handling a bunch of other potential customers. You also encounter inventory issues during this season, with much of the popular stuff already being sold out.

However, seasoned shoppers always recommend online shopping during the holidays because of many obvious reasons:

i) You don't have to stand in lanes or face the push and pulls you usually experience while shopping in stores.

ii) You can compare deals on many different websites and purchase the product from the best ones.

iii) Even if the desired product is sold out on one website, you can visit another and purchase it from there.

iv) You no longer need to dress up and leave the comfort of your homes. The product you ordered shall automatically be delivered to you.

However, despite its advantages, there are plenty of risks associated with shopping online. Apart from the many obvious risks of not being able to check or try the product you ordered, there are many other more dangerous risks too.

For your benefit, I've compiled together seven tips which will help you in reducing the risks while you're shopping online.

1. Only deal with reputable vendors

It is necessary to purchase products from reputable vendors only. Otherwise, you may end up paying for a product to a fake website owned by a hacker.

It is not uncommon for hackers to set up websites which look reputable and trustworthy, but are actually not. These only transfer your money into the pockets of cybercriminals.

Also avoid purchasing products from a website which doesn't use HTTPS. HTTPS is an SSL protocol which encrypts the webpage, disallowing hackers from monitoring your online activities.

2. Beware of suspicious emails

You may receive dozens of emails during the season, promoting an offer or a special product. Remember that many of these emails may have been sent to you by a hacker and cybercriminal.

Always make sure whether the email is coming from an ordinary g-mail account or from a company's domain. Hackers usually can't use proper domain accounts while sending emails.

Also make sure not to fall for any deals which seem too good to be true, unless of course they are being offered by a reputable online brand. Fake deals are only meant to lure potential baits and to steal their money and information from them.

"Any deal that is too good to be true, probably it isn't. Be cautions every time you encounter such offers (or emails)." - Rahul Kashyap.

3. Use Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) not only masks your online location, while also providing you with the cover of encryption to safeguard your online communications from hackers.

VPN presents plenty of other advantages too. For example, while trying to purchase a movie, game or subscription, you may find that it's not available in your country. And even if it is, you may find it to be a lot more cheaper for people in other countries.

Premium VPN services will help in this case by changing your IP address to any location available in the list of servers, allowing you to portray yourself a citizen of that country, allowing you to purchase the product or get a discount.

4. Fake freebies on social networks

Social media is full of fake and promotional content these days. You will find so many posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. offering free stuff if you open a particular link or share a particular post on your profile.

These deals are used to attract people and use them to either market their product, or access malware and adware filled websites. Those who access these websites may also be asked to give away personal details, which will then be used for fraudulent purposes.

5. Use credit card to make purchase

Seasoned shoppers agree that it's easier to resolve issues with credit card company than with your bank. It's also easier to cancel a payment made via credit card than via debit card.

The alert features on your credit card can also be very useful. These alerts can warn you of any abnormal account activity and are extremely useful during the busy holiday shopping season.

6. Review statements while making the purchase

Reviewing your statements is necessary, since it saves you from the prospects of online fraud, etc. Though it is boring, but you never know whether a certain part of the terms and conditions you're agreeing to may harm you in future.

Also make sure to keep a record of all the purchases you've made so far and how much you paid for them. Just in case the company's records are false or misleading, you can always go back to your own records and proceed accordingly.

7. Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi hotspots

Shopping on public Wi-Fi networks may seem convenient but can be horrifyingly dangerous. Wi-Fi hotspots are usually easier to hack and monitor. Some are even setup by hackers themselves so people may log into them and allow the hacker to hack or monitor their device.

It is better to use an encrypted VPN service in this case since they bar cybercriminals from accessing your network. Premium VPN services may help in this case.

Just as you would exercise caution with your wallet and belongings in a crowded store, remember to be just as vigilant while you are shopping online. We hope that the above mentioned tips will help you in achieving just that!