Published On: Fri, Sep 19th, 2014

How To Stay Safe When Buying Stuff Online

One of the best things about the World Wide Web is the fact you can buy almost anything online! These days I spend most of my hard-earned cash online. I rarely set foot in conventional bricks and mortar stores, except maybe to buy my groceries.

online payment

Millions of other people like me around the world prefer online shopping to buying stuff “in real life.” Queuing up for the checkout is a thing of the past. Because on the Internet, you are always ahead of the queue!

The only downside to shopping online is that people can sometimes fall victim to scams. For example, rogue emails direct people to fake websites that masquerade as ones they have bought from.

In today’s handy guide, I offer you some valuable tips and tricks to staying safe when buying stuff online.

Only use secure websites

You can tell that you are looking at a secure page by seeing whether the URL has a “https://” prefix. The “s” stands for “secure.”

All modern web browsers have an address bar at the top, and it’s there that you can tell whether you are looking at a secure or unsecure web page. If you plan on buying from a website, ensure that any pages where personal information gets entered is secure.

Examples of such pages include delivery and address details, card numbers and order details.

Check the authenticity of the online seller

If you have never bought from a specific website before, the first thing you need to do is determine how legitimate the seller is. Things to look for include a company name, office address, contact numbers and email addresses.

A telltale sign the website is bogus is if there are no contact details. Having just a contact form on a website does not make it legitimate.

Check the payment processing system is legitimate

One of the oldest con tricks in the book is to store card details but not charge any transactions to them. Legitimate websites use payment processors such as Stripe and WorldPay. With the former, some websites use an invoice generator for Stripe.

The invoice gets generated as soon as the payment gets authorized. On that invoice, you will see your full order details along with the details of who you ordered from.

Use unique passwords

Pretty much all e-commerce websites ask users to set up accounts on them. Online accounts get protected by user-defined passwords.

When you have to give a password for an online store, make sure it is unique. Here are some top password tips:

  • Do not use the same password that you use for your email account;
  • Make sure the password contains a mix of letters, numbers and symbols;
  • Use a password that is at least eight characters long.

Use unique email addresses

If you use an email host like, you can set up alias email addresses. Consider using an alias address for each online store. That way if you receive spam mail to one of them, you know where the source of the spam originates from.


Good luck!