Shopping Online with Safety in Mind
Chances are you’ve contributed to a record this holiday without even realizing it. At the end of 2013, analysts were blown away by a rate of online shopping that far surpassed their expectations. Nearly four out of ten holiday purchases were made online for gift gathering, largely in thanks to massive discounts offered and the convenience of shopping online with smartphone technologies.
With this great boom of internet commerce comes a risk that many homeowners aren’t familiar with or prepared for, and that’s risk is how shopping online can spell disaster when it comes to the theft of property and personal identity. Fortunately, a little bit of tech savviness can make shopping online as safe as any brick-and-mortar store. Here are some ways to avoid theft and fraud the next time you decide to shop online:
Monitoring your packages
The most obvious way that theft can occur is through crooks stealing packages once they arrive on your property. Even when packages aren’t pilfered on the spot, frequent deliveries can be a sign to outsiders that your property is full of expensive gadgets and gifts for the taking.
This can be a serious detriment for many online shoppers in urban neighborhoods. However, understanding some basic home security principles and coordinating it with the delivery of your packages can help drastically reduce the odds that someone other than your deliveryman will handle your property before you can.
Home monitoring equipment can help tremendously in determining when packages arrive on your property. While they’ve traditionally held the role of deterring and alarming us when burglars invade our property, many features of modern equipment make tracking the arrival of packages exceptionally easier.
For example, those who used their smart phone to shop can also use it with programs such as SafeMart’s LiveWatch or ADT Pulse to receive alerts when anyone gets within certain proximity of their property. These can also provide live video feeds, adjust lights and locks, and numerous other functions depending on what sort of web-enabled devices you’ve equipped on your property. Automated alerts can help you realize precisely when a delivery has been made on your property, which takes out the guesswork in ensuring a safe delivery.
One of the best ways to nip package theft before it happens is by ordering that the package is only receivable when a signature is acquired. However, when receiving packages when this isn’t an option or during periods of time in which you’ll be unavailable to receive them, it can be helpful to have a trusted neighbor keep an eye on any deliveries made to your property.
Use the package’s tracking number to give yourself a window of time in which you can expect packages to arrive. While this can provide a rough estimate of when your package can be expected, it can be particularly helpful in making plans for friends or neighbors to intercept your packages rather than letting them to serve as low-hanging fruit to thieving passersby.
Avoiding fraud online
One of the greatest risks that online shopping can have can happen before your package even arrives, and that’s if your personal or credit information is stolen. With the recent Target data leak of 2013, there has been evidence that even retail locations aren’t bulletproof when protecting your data against hackers and scammers. But fraud can happen in a variety of ways online, and it can be prevented if you remain aware of these methods and actively avoid them.
· Beware of “phishing” sites where scammers create sites that simulate the appearance of trusted online retailers like Amazon or eBay. Even sites which appear legitimate and contain badges indicating their trustworthiness as a business can be fraudulent, so always make sure to only conduct business on trusted sites.
· Never share your personal or financial information with anyone online, even if you receive messages from someone claiming to be affiliated with a company that you’ve had recent business with. It’s a general rule of thumb for most companies that they will never request your personal information online, so always take such requests with skepticism.
· Avoid unsolicited offers for deals or coupons if you cannot verify the legitimacy of the source. These are often cloaked attempts at retrieving your personal or financial information, either by requesting it directly or by infecting your computer with malware to harvest your information.
For more tips on shopping safely online, check out this article on some best practices. While online shopping offers a level of convenience and accessibility that physical locations rarely match, it’s always important to remember the specific risks that shopping online can introduce to your household.
By Zachary Trupp, a blogger writing with SafeMart, a Kansas-based home security provider who serves nationwide. In addition to writing about home security, Zach enjoys blogging about survival, self-defense, and real estate.
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stormkatt/8385008715/