Seniors’ Guide to Hassle Free Shopping Online
Since the prototype of online shopping was introduce in 1979 by Michael Aldrich, an English entrepreneur, more and more people are “leafing through their browsers” – electronic equivalent of window shopping.
Yes, in fact in 2012 two thirds of Americans, 50 yrs old and above, buy online – roughly 1/3 of the U.S.’s 193.5 million users.
What they buy online range from computer software, books, CDs and audiotapes, coupons and special offers, to sweepstakes and lotteries.
And segment of online shoppers, the Golden Generation is expected to increase because seniors are living longer and new retirees join their ranks each year.
Those who have been buying online find it easy and safe, and convenient; it saves them a lot of time and effort.
For beginners or those who have only made a few purchases and haven’t mastered the intricacies of online shopping, it can be difficult and unsafe.
This cheat sheet is made just for you – to make your online shopping experience easy, easy, safe, and enjoyable. These are what no one tells you about.
Online shopping made easy:
Online shopping is no more than a one-two-three-four step process: Surf – Choose – Add to Cart – Wait.
Before all that can happen, you need to have a way of paying for your purchases. The generally accepted online shopping currency is the Credit Card.
If you already have one, fine. If not, then choose one that best satisfies your online transactions. Sadly, not all credit cards are created equal. Fortunately NerdWallet has a tool to help you decide which is best for you.
Alternative ways of payment:
Don’t like credit cards? No problem. You can use Gift Cards or any of these pay processors: PayPal, MoneyPak, or PayNearMe.
Paypal is one of the oldest and most reliable pay processor in the market. Using them, however, requires opening an account where you are to furnish them your personal information, including your bank account number.
But there is no cause for worry as they hold these information to the highest level of confidentiality. I’ve used PayPal for so many years, never experiencing any problem whatsoever
At any rate, go over each, taking into account their pros and cons and decide what is best for you.
That’s easy the easy part. The hard part is where to shop.
You can surf for specialized items like clothes, bags, shoes, sporting equipment, etc., or go directly to any of various one-stop-shops of which Amazon leads the pack.
But don’t immediately “Add to Cart” the first item you see. Check the reputation of the manufacturer, the price, the store’s delivery and delivery charges, return policies and, most of all, product reviews. Stay away from products with less than 3 Stars.
How to safely shop online:
Online scams have become the fodder of news concerning the elderly. Because they normally live alone, with impaired cognitive skills, generally trusting, and limited computer literacy, seniors have become the favorite targets of online scammers.
These tips will help you beat online scammers in their own game:
1. Use familiar websites:
Amazon, Target, Best Buy and Home Depot are one-stop-shops with very reliable reputations. Their credibility and track records go back to their earlier days.
If they carry the item you are looking for buy it – provided it fits your requirements in price, quality, deliver and how you intend to use it. No need to buy a sledgehammer if you only want a mallet.
Should you want to surf for an online store, use .com, not .net. The former domain format is for commercial purposes while the latter is for network related organizations.
2. Be sure the website is secure:
Never do business with online stores if their websites are not locked (without an SSL – secure sockets layer). This is very important to protect online transactions.
Websites with an SSL starts with https://, while those without starts with http://.
Other than that, a locked padlock icon typically appears in the status bar at the bottom of your browser, or right after the URL in the address bar.
3. Don’t give away all your personal info:
Do not patronize online stores asking more of your personal information than necessary, i.e., social security number or your birth date. If these are combined with your credit card number you fall prey to identity thieves.
4. Regularly check your online transactions:
Regularly check your credit/debit transactions by going online. Do not wait for the monthly billing statements to arrive. They may come too late.
Check for fraudulent entries or over/under charging. Immediately call your bank if you see some irregularities to avoid paying stiff interest charges.
5. Always protect your PC:
Though there is actually no fool-proof protection system, but it is better to have your PC or laptop amply protected to deter hackers.
Experts suggest Ad-Aware Free Internet Security (9.0), or the purchased Webroot Secure Anywhere Antivirus.
Where your personal information is concerned, it is better to be over-protected than under.
6. Use a fail-safe or strong password:
Fail-safe or strong passwords are necessary to prevent hackers from easily compromising your system.
Most users, to make it easy to remember, use their mother’s maiden name, favorite pet, birthdays, and many other common names for passwords thereby slightly opening the doors to the secrecy and confidentiality of their accounts. Avoid this.
Fail-safe or strong passwords are made up of three elements: lower case letters, upper case letters, numerals and symbols. Combined, you can have as many as 127 characters
to comprise your password (but that’s stretching things a bit too far).
Once you’ve got it down, save it somewhere for easy retrievable and make sure no one has access to it.
7. Use apps when using your mobile phones for shopping:
It is estimated that 60% of Internet users and 5.7% of adults shopping online use their mobile devices.
While surfing is not much of a risk issue, buying online is. Mobile fraud is on the rise.
To avoid falling into it, use apps provided by online stores. Directly logging into their site exposes your system to viruses like malware.
8. Don’t buy online from a public terminal:
It is never a good idea to shop online using a public terminal because the network itself allows for snooping, the terminal you are using may have bugs and the hotspot may be malicious.
If you must use your laptop in public, be sure there are no prying eyes which could get your precious personal information for their own use.
9. Always be on the side of caution:
According to records compiled by Business Wire, online retail fraud increased by 30% in 2015. Holiday seasons are particularly alarming.
Online fraud occurs when:
o Buyers receive their goods late or not at all;
o Sellers not receiving payment;
o Buyers are receiving goods which are inferior against those advertised or different from original description;
o Non disclosure of relevant information about a product or terms of sale.
The bad part is that you will have no prospect of returning the goods you bought, or get a refund from your purchase. But the real harm is in compromising your personal information which could be used fraudulently.
Online shopping for most people is the preferred way of buying things. It is convenient, saves time, it offers a wider choice of products and stores, safe and easy – provided you know how to do it safely.
This article can greatly help you in that direction.
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