As technology becomes more accessible for all age groups more and more brick and mortar stores are looking to sell products online. Many small businesses in the past couple of years have strictly focused on the free means of online social media to grow their business and sell to customers online. Amazon, one of the largest growing companies in the stock market, strictly sells their products online and gives incentives for people to sign up for their VIP type service and offers things like, Free 2-day shipping and online video streaming. Maybe you are one of those subscribers or maybe you are one of those that are still weary of putting your information on the Internet, either way you will find easy applicable ways in the following to help you stay secure online.
One of the misconceptions about the Internet is that “Everyone has access to your information.” Security in the early days of the Internet was very poor as many companies in the past did not have the experience to be able to make their websites secure from hackers. One of the greatest things that happened to help secure the Internet is what is called SSL Certificates (Secure Sockets Layer). What the SSL does is encrypt your connection and information shared with the website so that no one else can see it or have access to it. Websites that sell products online, and take credit cards, are required to have this in place to help secure the customers information. Even the main social media website like Facebook and Instagram have SSL certificates. Most people are use to a website URL being like this: http://www.example.com. You may use just www, but the url always has the http attached to it even if it is not shown. A website that has an SSL Certificate begins it’s URL with https, with the “s” signifying that it has an SSL certificate. On some web browsers you can even see a lock icon that shows it is secure.
From someone that has done the majority of their business and purchases online, I believe that if you take these 3 easy steps you can thwart the treat of shopping online. 1. Do your research. This is number one because it is the most important thing when shopping online. Many that have had problems with purchasing online buy from non-reputable companies. If you do not think a company is trustworthy do a simple search on Google and type “Business Name Reviews” in the search box and do some reading. 2. Buy products shipped from the US. One easy way to find out if companies ship their products from the US is to check their contact page on their website. More than likely if they have a US based address and phone number then their products are in the US and can be easily shipped to you. 3. Check the URL for SSL. Even if you go to Facebook you should see the “https” in the URL. If a website does not have an SSL certificate (that “s” in the https) then you do not want to purchase from them as their site could potentially be compromised. Here is an extra step for those advanced online shoppers, Use PayPal. You get an added layer of security when you use PayPal to checkout with an online retailer. One, you get the secure connection between the website and your browser, but you also get the security of PayPal’s buyer protection that will reimburse you in cases where there is fraud.
What about those small businesses that use social media as an outlet to customers? Many of those companies do not have websites to purchase online because of a number of reasons, but do sell products online through Facebook or Instagram. When purchasing products from companies through Facebook or Instagram make sure to follow the steps above and always send private messages when sharing sensitive information. Even though these private messages are secured behind an SSL certificate, just like the websites that sell online, it is a good practice to delete those messages once payment has been made.
Are you ready to go shopping online? Always remember the one person that you can trust is yourself. If you still do not feel comfortable purchasing online then stick with the brick and mortar stores, but if this has helped calm some uneasiness, take these steps above and you can be secure while purchasing online and can save a good bit of money as well as time when shopping.
If you require any more information or have any questions about online shopping you are more than welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org