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Important Things to Remember When Shopping Online On Your Phone

The internet did the impossible: it brought the mall to our homes. You can browse through stores and shop for hours without leaving the room. Press a few buttons, and a package will come to your front door the next day. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes, a new toy for your kids, or a surprise gift for your partner, online stores have your back.

But there’s more to online shopping than meets the eye. Getting a Stanley tumbler for 70% off might initially seem like a steal, but it could be a theft attempt from a cybercriminal. You place the order, and all you get is nothing but a drained bank account. Here’s what to remember when shopping online on your phone:

Shop on a secure connection

You’re out on the playground with your kids, and they’re having fun with each other. It seems like an excellent time to enjoy yourself and check Amazon for the deal of the day. You connect to the free public Wi-Fi and start scrolling. After a few minutes, you add a few things to the basket and proceed to check out. Your financial info is already saved, so you confirm the transaction and jump in to join the fun with your kids.

While you were shopping, one of the unnoticeable gentlemen nearby was lurking on the network and saved all your personal information through a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack. They now have your name, surname, email address, and credit card information. The hacker is now able to go on a shopping spree, too!

To make sure this never happens to you, always remember to place orders from a secure connection. The network you’re using must be encrypted so no one can collect your information. Never make a purchase on a public network unless you’re using a VPN for iOS or Android because it could be compromised. It would be best to have your VPN on whenever you’re not on your home connection. However, to be absolutely safe, keep the VPN on even at home.

Be sure that the merchant is legit

If you see an ad for jeans from Levi’s with a blue checkmark next to the sponsored post, you can most likely be sure it’s legit. But many outlets and merchants offer the same goods for a fraction of the price. It’s like going to TJ Maxx instead of visiting Levi’s store.

But some merchants want to use your benevolence and try to scam you. The products might never arrive, the quality might be lower, and you won’t get a confirmation email or a warranty. Whenever you notice a new merchant, double-check their background and do a simple Google search to see some reviews. If negative comments prevail, just skip this one and search for a trustworthy merchant.

Don’t fall for offers that are too good to be true

Super low prices are suspicious. Imagine seeing an ad for Apple AirPods for $5. It just doesn’t make any sense. The first thought that comes to mind is whether the merchant is selling a genuine product and not a fake. The second thing is whether buying the item at such a low price is legal. Or maybe the seller is getting extra money by selling your financial information behind your back.

Bad actors might offer absurdly low prices and then claim the item is out of stock or sold out. Then they’ll try to do a bait-and-switch scam, so you get something of lesser value. Don’t fall for these tricks.

Look for the lock

Whenever you visit a website you plan to make a purchase from, look for the lock. It’s a small symbol near the beginning of the website name (which should always start with “https” and not “http”). Don’t make any payments on websites that are not secure.

Be cautious of stores that ask for too much information

We’re all familiar with the information we have to provide on the checkout pages. That includes name, surname, email, phone number (should be optional by default), shipping address, and credit card info. Anything other than that should tickle your suspicious bone.

Some stores might ask about your interests, but answering shouldn’t be mandatory. Always be cautious if a site asks personal questions like how many kids you have, whether you’re married or not, and similar information. Make it a habit to check privacy policies to understand how your information will be used. Choose companies that respect your privacy and don’t rent, sell, or share your information with third parties.

How to save money while shopping online?

Everyone knows email discounts, coupon codes, and Black Friday deals. But there’s one trick in the book that could save you a bunch of money if you know how to use it, and it involves using a VPN.

Now, you’re probably thinking that the whole point of a VPN is to protect you from cybercriminals. That’s true, but you get one extra perk: avoiding price discrimination. Many airlines, hotels, and merchants adapt their prices based on the economy of the country they’re trying to sell to. So, if you’re in the United States, you’ll see a higher price than in a Mediterranean country like Greece.

All you have to do is use the VPN app to change your location to a different country and then continue shopping. Maybe the game your kids have been nagging you about can be purchased with $20 off just by clicking a few buttons.