Four smart online shopping tips for 2021

11 January 2021 | Crime

Matthew Stern

2020 was a strange year with the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. The upside of the pandemic was that more people turned to online shopping, which is more convenient. The downside with online shopping was that cybercriminals also had a field day stealing from naïve shoppers. As we transition into 2021, here are some smart shopping tips to use in the coming year.

1. Buy from reputable vendors
Just because a random site promises huge discounts does not mean it is legit. Most of these sites that promise the moon are run by cybercriminals, who attempt at every turn to steal your data and your money. If you do any online transactions, using a VPN to ensure security is your best bet. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your sent and received data, ensuring nobody can tap into your network and steal your payment information or credit card details. VPNs use a high-tech encryption standard called AES-256-bit, used by banks and the US government to protect their classified data.

2. Ignore emails or messages from unknown sources
Phishing is a common cyber threat that happens to thousands of unsuspecting people. Fraudsters use emails to send you an attachment or link, pretending to be an online shop that you frequent. Clicking on the link or downloading the attachment unleashes viruses or malware into your computer.
These links also redirect you to fake websites that try to prompt you to divulge your personal details such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. Avoid such emails or messages, no matter how legit they look. Instead, please navigate to the official online shop site via your web browser and see what they have to offer.

3. Use comparison tools or sites
To get the best bargains, use comparison tools online to find the best discounts from reputable sites. Use a comparison tool app or comparison sites online, which scour the internet looking for cheap bargains, combine them into a list and post them online. Some sites offer discount codes, which will help you save quite some money. Some discount codes offer free shipping, fixed or percentage discounts.

4. Minimize packaging waste
Shop online for the things you need from the same vendor and ask them to be shipped as one package. Buying different items from one seller on different dates and requiring separate packaging encourages packaging waste. This 2021, we are striving towards a greener earth and minimizing our carbon footprints.

5. Conclusion
Online shopping is a growing industry, and hackers are increasingly targeting unsuspecting shoppers. As we go into 2021, you need to be aware of how to protect yourself. You also need to know some tricks on saving a bit of cash while shopping by using discount codes and comparison tools. All the best as we go into the new year, and make informed decisions.

Matthew Stern is a guest author. Contact him at [email protected]

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