5 tips to shopping more securely online

Online shopping
Online shopping
(image courtesy)

Online shopping sites have been on a steady increase in Kenya even as most still grapple with the lack of an address system to enable home deliveries. However, most are still making do with the available resources such as the many Boda boda motor bikes that are in Nairobi including other major towns.

There are still however, a lot of concerns that many buyers have even as the deals on some of these online shopping sites become irresistible. I have had my own share of experiences and frustrations with one of the major deals online site some time back and I wrote a lengthy rant advice about it with some advice to new entrants.

From observations and experience, here are some of the things you as a buyer should consider before buying things online.

1. Check out sellers
Carry out sufficient background check on the site you wish to buy from especially if you are shopping on that site for the first time. You are bound to get Blogger reviews of the site as well as know if the website is legitimate. Confirm that the shopping site has a telephone number available as well as a physical address especially for local sites when you  have a problem with your transaction or delivery delays.

2. Make sure the site is legitimate
Before you enter your personal and financial information to make an online transaction, look for signs that the site is secure. This includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with shttp or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured. Never use unsecured wireless networks to make an online purchase.
Do not submit your credit card or debit card details to the site directly if the site is not verified and is not  reputable for online payments . Actually, most shopping sites no longer handle payments directly with most opting to use digital payment gateways such as Paypal. This is mostly due to the increase in online fraud and what is referred to as MITMA ( Man in the middle attacks)

3. Personal Information
Whenever you are making an online purchase, be careful about the type of personal information you are disclosing about yourself and what the privacy policy for the site is on use and storage of your information.

4.Use safe Payment options
Credit cards are generally a more safer option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. Also, unlike debit cards, credit cards may have a limit on the monetary amount you will be responsible for paying if your information is stolen and used by someone else. Never send cash through the mail or use a money-wiring service because you’ll have no recourse if something goes wrong. Don’t forget to review return policies. You want a no-hassle ability to return items.  Digital Payment companies such as Paypal has a very effective buyer protection service takes care of the payment option as it has been integrated with many online shopping sites and it also has a comprehensive buyer protection that covers failed deliveries  etc as seen below.

5. Buyer protection
It is unfortunate that alot of the local online shopping sites do not yet have  buyer protection. I once bought some items on Rupu only to realize, they were miniatures of what I was led to believe I was buying and they were not willing to give any refunds.

The experience would have been very different if I had used Paypal to pay for the items. If an eligible item that you’ve bought online doesn’t arrive, or doesn’t match the seller’s description, PayPal’s Buyer Protection may reimburse you for the full amount of the item plus postage. Buyer Protection may cover your eligible online purchases, on eBay or on any other website, when you use PayPal. It also covers you when you make a payment on PayPal’s website.

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