This week I am going to write about one of my favourite past-times as I have been doing this for years – even before it became such a popular shopping solution – online shopping! I have always been one of those rare women that despised running from store to store looking for a specific item only to end up frustrated and exhausted.
The benefits of online shopping? You do not have to fight traffic to drive to the mall and circle the parking lot; online stores are open 24-7, you can shop in your pajamas; it is easy to compare prices between multiple online retailers; product selection is vast, including many stores and unique items sold outside of Canada; and products are shipped right to your door. But to ensure a smooth online shopping experience, take heed to these following safety tips:
Always use a secure internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission. You will see a little lock icon on your browser (and usually “https” at the front of your address bar) to confirm it’s a secure connection.
Ensure you are paying securely. Only shop on sites that take secure payment methods, such as credit cards and PayPal, which is electronically linked to your credit card or bank account. Never send cash or a cheque. When shopping at an unfamiliar merchant site, look for some sort of security seal of approval, such as DigiCert, Better Business Bureau or VeriSign.
Update your security software on a regular basis. Whether you shop on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop, always keep the operating system up to date to avoid cybercriminals exploiting a weakness. Also use good anti-malware that includes anti-virus and a firewall.
Do your homework. When on auction sites like eBay, check the seller’s reputation and read comments/reviews before buying a product to see what the experience was like for past customers. Also, do not forget about the number 1 tip about shopping: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Choose strong passwords and do not store your passwords. A good password is at least eight characters long and includes letters, numbers and symbols. Or use a passphrase, which is a long string of words together, and include a number and symbol, too. For example, the sentence “My dog Emma has a birthday April 16!” could be used to create a passphrase like “MdEhabA16!
While I extol the virtues of online shopping particularly for seniors who may find it difficult to get out shopping, it is still important to support our local retailers as much as possible. There are many local businesses who offer online shopping or at least a website for you to peruse so you can call in an order, check on inventory, etc. prior to venturing out in the cold.
On another note, if you have time during your browsing, check out and complete the online survey being conducted by our Local Health Integration Network. Type southeastlhin.on.ca into the web address line of your computer and follow the link to the survey. There is a scrolling banner so if you miss it the first time, be patient, and wait for the survey to appear again. This is a great opportunity for everyone to express their wishes for our local healthcare system.