During the beginnings of the pandemic, there was a huge shift from buying locally towards online shopping due to the imposed lockdowns: in just one year, people increased their online shopping habits by a staggering 30% (Statista). And it hasn’t stopped there.
Whilst PC Harmony is a big fan of “buying local” to reduce our carbon footprint and support local business, there simple often is no option to buy locally when it comes to tech products – even when there is no lockdown.
Thus, shopping online remains a convenient, and often also cheaper, solution, but it doesn’t come without risks!
Can Online Shopping ever be safe?
Yes. Well, kind of – or at least if you follow all the steps outlined below.
As always, there is of course no 100% guarantee – just as burglars can still enter your house despite locks on the door. However, you can make it just that much harder for them, so keep on reading.
We’ve been online shopping for many years and have learned some valuable lessons occasionally but have probably lost cash a lot more often than money online. There is also the matter of returning items and we have come across resistance with returns in local shops more so than with online retailers, where you often simply fill out a return note and post the item back.
So, let’s start by making it safe!
Online Shopping Safety 101
Make sure that your computer has updated Antivirus software installed that protects you from visiting unsafe websites. In the rare case that your card details are compromised, this is the first question your bank is going to ask you and the first hurdle if you cannot prove you have done your best to protect your computer. We highly recommend ESET.
Make sure the website you are buying from has a valid SSL Certificate – the easiest way to tell is by the lock symbol showing before the URL
- Private Network
Make sure you are on a private Wifi network, so don’t go shopping on a public Wifi like Starbucks or airport lounges
- Genuine Retailer
Make sure the website you are buying from is a genuine retailer, ideally based in the UK (so UK regulations apply) – if they don’t have an email address, postal address or phone number, avoid them at all costs.
And a final bit of advice…
Trust your gut instinct – if something looks odd or sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
And we all know that cheaper isn’t always better and with that in mind, we have created a new PC Harmony shop where we only list tried & tested, and highly recommended products. To keep stock levels down, some products have links to a recommended reseller (i.e., Amazon) and some products even include cost of installation – so you don’t have to worry about how to install that new printer! So be sure to check it out:
Also, a top tip for not getting spammed on your day-to-day email address, create a free Email address (i.e., Google, Outlook etc.) that is only used for your shopping habits. That way, you can still log on to check if there when there is a delivery delay but can otherwise ignore their marketing emails altogether.
Any other tips you would like to share with us? Leave your comment below!