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Top 9 Risks of Online Shopping and How You Can Avoid Them

Online shopping is the saviour for very many people who do not have enough time to go to actual shopping. When it comes to online shopping, there are several benefits that one can immediately take away. It is quick, easy, flexible, and cost efficient. One can find better deals on online stores and compare goods in a way unknown to physical retail stores. 

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.

Therefore, it is advisable that before one spends their money online they should take a moment to mull over some of the dangers involved and ways to reduce risk. These include;-

1. Phishing Scams.

These are the most common kind of threats to be careful about where scammers make fake pages that resemble genuine shopping sites or pages. Here, they get the buyer to enter their details and once the user has been tricked into sharing their personal details or bank details, they become victim of an online scam or malware campaign.

2. Online Theft.

This is a case of someone wrongfully obtaining and using another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.

When a user visits a site and makes an online purchase, his details entered are up for grabs. This is the prize that online attackers look for and makes their efforts worthwhile.

These details can be acquired by an attacker either by phishing the user or by hacking the server of a genuine site and stealing details. Once a cybercriminal has in-depth information such as Name, DOB, Contact details, Address and more, he can cause a huge financial dent in the victim’s account.

3. Specialized Malware.

The most common cases of data loss or theft stem from exposure to malware. Malicious software enters a machine through email attachments, downloads, infected websites, infected devices and more. Once inside, they can spy on a user’s activities, redirect them to malicious portals, track keyboard inputs and perform other highly dangerous activities.

Malware authors deliberately target such malware during times of high traffic, so as to get maximum exposure and hits.

4. Fake Stores.

Fake stores and deals are the bane of all online shoppers. Here, the shopper is attracted by an ad for a really sweet deal. Once they click on it, they get directed to a fake and shady looking website that has absolutely no sign of the deal you clicked on.

Such sites often become malware distribution centers and also offer inferior or fake goods. Mobile shoppers in particular, need to be wary of fake websites or pages that make high promises. Remember, if the deal is too good, think twice.

5. Fake Apps.

With a large population of smartphone owners, app developers are having a field day at the moment. However, online shoppers need to look out for fake online shopping apps that make lofty promises of several great deals.

Once an app has been installed, it gets access to several system files and data and can also ask the user to save his card details for future purchases and then transmit all of this information to a remote server. This is one great reason why smartphone owners need to be extremely cautious since their devices are highly vulnerable through multiple channels.

6.Fake online reviews.

Some scammers do post fake sales reviews or even offer a refund to customers in exchange for a write-up. Online shoppers should always be skeptical of reviews that lack detail or are too positive.

Before one gets fully entangled in the deal, they should first check the source of this info to see if it links to the reviewer's profile and previous reviews or a social media page that shows the reviewer is real. 

Shoppers must focus on customer interactions on their Facebook and Twitter Accounts as this helps reduce their risk of people assuming skeptical comments and build a relationship with their customers.

It is also advisable to read reviews on multiple platforms such as Amazon and epinions.com just to get a clue of the whole reviews issue.

7. Lack of full cost disclosure.

Additional fees like shipping, may be hidden until late in the checkout process. This information is usually unleashed towards the end of the purchase process when you have already committed your payment. 

Remember there is “no free lunch”. In other words, you are going to pay for that delivery in one way or the other.

8. Counterfeit goods.

Most online thieves will sell you counterfeits which look quite similar to the genuine products. If the price on an item is too good to be true, it probably is.

Always research on the seller or website you are buying from before you actually engage in the trade. Don’t be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions. Finally, trust your gut.

9. Order never arrives.

This is where an order you make online never gets delivered to you even after making your due payment. The likelihood of any order not arriving to the shopper, increases when third party sellers become involved. 

When shopping online, always stick to top rated internet dealers and outlets.

Precautionary measures.

(i) Never use public Wi-Fi when sending sensitive data.

It is quite advisable to avoid using public Wi-Fi connection especially when one plans to use their banking information. The biggest threat to free Wi-Fi security is the ability for the hacker to position themselves between the user and the connection point. So, instead of talking directly with the hotspot, the user is sending their information to the hacker, who then relays it on.

While working in this setup, the hacker has access to every piece of information the user is sending out on the internet such as important emails, credit card information and even security credentials to their business network.

Once the hacker has that information, they can, at their leisure, access the victim’s systems as if they were the users themselves.

(ii) Always make sure you having an active Anti-Virus Protection.

This may seem banal to you, but if you haven’t updated your AV program recently, you may be prone to security issues varying from mild to severe.

Worst case scenario is you have a Trojan in your system. There are many different types of Trojans and some of them are particularly designed to harvest banking information. Moreover, some Trojans even have key logging capabilities, meaning that all of your login credentials are now owned by crooks. Not to forget PoS (point-of-sale) malware which seems to proliferate this time around the year.

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