Online Shopping Mistakes That Could Cost You Big Time!

Online shopping can seem like the ultimate in instant gratification. However, while the ability to buy pretty much anything you want from the comfort of your own home presents incredible benefits, it can also get out of hand pretty quickly. Overspending and draining your bank account is one of the more common pitfalls – but it might not even be the worst, particularly when you consider how shopping online can jeopardize your identity.

Generally, you should feel comfortable purchasing items online. However, that doesn’t mean you should click “buy” before adequately educating yourself. As long as you’re aware of the most prevalent mistakes made by online shoppers and how to best avoid them, there shouldn’t be any problem hunting down that perfect item and  scoring the best price.

  1. Saving Your Personal Information
    The convenience of saving your personal information for future purchases is certainly appealing, but there are plenty of risks associated with it – your personal account being targeted is just one.  If an entire retail site is compromised, account information is the first data that perpetrators go for. Also, You’re probably much more likely to spend money if your credit card information is already saved to your account. Remember: Never save credit card information on a retail website, no matter how secure it may seem.

  2. Not Shopping Around
    Would you pay more for the same item at a brick-and-mortar store if another just a few feet away sold it for a better price? Probably not. However, consumers often do not take the time to shop around online.

    Google Shopping is a resource for comparison shopping. It instantly checks prices at a number of online retailers.

  3. Shopping Without a Coupon
    Coupon codes represent another great way to save money – if you’re willing to do the footwork. The vast majority of online retailers offer this capability, but it takes a little elbow grease to find the best ones. While some stores advertise coupon codes at the top of their webpages, there are other ways to sniff them out.  RetailMeNot and CouponCabin both compile searchable lists of coupon codes that can easily be copied and pasted during the checkout process for extra savings.

  4. Ignoring Shipping
    Ignoring shipping costs when shopping online can mean spending a lot more than you think. When you search for items online, make sure you filter results based on price plus shipping to get the most accurate number possible. Always check individual store policies, as well – particularly if you’re shipping overseas, which can be quite expensive. And always check to see if you can purchase an item from an online shopping site offering free shipping. Also, be sure to find out each store’s policy for return shipping: Who is responsible if you need to send an item back?

  5. Not Reading the Return Policy
    It is always essential that you read the return policy whenever shopping online. Apart from knowing who is financially responsible for return shipping, you should find out how long a window you have to return an item, and whether a restocking fee is assessed.

  6. Skipping Reviews
    When a consumer has a bad experience, the Internet can be a very useful sounding board. By the same token, it’s also the ultimate forum to praise favorite products and stores. Always read reviews on the item you’re purchasing and the store. This can give you a better sense of product quality, user experience, and overall security.   A trick is to read the three-star reviews. Since they’re middle-of-the-road, they tend to offer more pros and cons.

  7. Using Public WiFi
    Shopping over public WiFi at the cafe might seem like a good way to pass the time, but be careful. Information sent via insecure or public connections can be easily hacked, so it’s best to wait until you’re home and on a private network before sending your credit card information. The same goes for logging into your online bank portal via public connection.  Wait until you get home.

  8. Using Your Debit Card
    Using a separate credit card specifically for online shopping can be a good idea. That way, any would-be hackers only have access to that one card. If it falls into the wrong hands, you can easily remedy the situation with a call to the credit card provider, especially for cards with fairly low limits.

    On the other hand, using a debit card gives hackers access to your personal bank accounts and personal money.

  9. Ordering From Insecure and Unknown Sites
    For any given product, hundreds of retailers could be fighting for your dollar. But not all websites are the same, and some can be downright sketchy. Take the time to check a site’s security and reputation.

    Here are a few ways to protect yourself.  First, run a quick search to read store reviews and check a retailer’s online reputation. No reviews or ratings?  Be wary!  Entire websites are devoted to helping you out with this, such as ResellerRatings. Next, when checking, you should see the beginning of the website URL change from “http” to “https” to denote a secure connection. Always purchase from trusted sellers and resellers.

  10. Signing Up for Deal Emails
    Usually, you’re either signed up automatically during the purchase process, or you do so voluntarily to get a discount on an order. The problem is that you then get near-daily emails proclaiming a never-ending slew of sales and discounts which tempt you to spend more.  You can stop the emails by checking the bottom of the email for opt-out instructions.

  11. Not Checking the Size Chart
    If you’re purchasing clothing or shoes online, be aware that every retailer, brand, and model has the potential to be completely different.  Checking size charts can give you a better idea of how different garments fit, allowing you to order based on your measurements rather than your usual size.

  12. Signing Up for a Free Trial
    Scoring a free trial for a shopping membership sounds awesome, especially if it means getting perks like free shipping and product discounts. If you do sign up for one, though, make sure it’s truly free.

    Some free trials require credit card numbers, with the retailer promising it won’t be charged if you cancel service before the trial period ends. That’s fine, but certain retailers make it notoriously hard to cancel accounts, practically forcing you into a long-term membership. The truth is, there are so many options, prices, and discounts online that you rarely need the trial benefits anyway – skip it if it looks like a trap.

Final Word

Online shopping can mean a world of discounts, infinite selection, and an easy purchasing experience, but it can also be dangerous. Whether it compromises your identity or your budget, the repercussions can be serious and long-lasting. By all means, find deals and use discounts to get the best item for the best price, but make sure you’re doing so safely, or you could suffer the consequences.

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