6 Tips to Shop Online Safely

Protect yourself from scammers with these smart shopping practices.

A UW Credit union member opens a packaged ordered safely online thanks to these six tips

by Marni Gasser, Director of Card Programs

Social media sites make shopping easy. (And tempting!)

However, buying through social media ads and marketplaces can be risky – instead of a reputable merchant, you may be dealing with a scammer. Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself online and tell if it’s ok to make a purchase.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

Be cautious of prices that seem too good to be true. Scammers often use incredibly low prices to lure in unsuspecting buyers. To protect yourself, compare prices across different platforms and sellers to get an idea of the average market price for the product or service you're interested in.

Check the URL

Some scammers try to trick you by using a URL that’s close to that of a real website. (Think “Amazone” vs. “Amazon.”) In other cases, the page will look like that of a trusted retailer, but the URL is incorrect. Before you buy, make sure the URL is accurate.

Verify the details

Thoroughly read the product description, specifications and images provided by the seller. If the information is vague, incomplete or seems copied from other sources, it could be a red flag. Legitimate sellers provide accurate and detailed information to help buyers make informed decisions. (Pro tip: Try a reverse search on an image to make sure it originated from the seller.)

Look up the merchant

Before you buy an item you saw in a social media ad, do a little research on the merchant. Check for reviews and ratings on the platform itself or through external sources if available. Look for established sellers with a positive track record and a history of satisfied customers. Avoid sellers with little to no feedback or an abundance of negative reviews.

Make sure it’s secure

When redirected to external websites for payment or order confirmation, make sure the URL starts with "https://" and includes a padlock symbol in the address bar. These indicate that the website uses encryption to protect your data.

Listen to your gut

If something feels off, you’re probably right. Don’t be afraid to walk away – missing out on a good deal is much better than accidentally falling for a scam.

Want to learn more about best practices online? Check out these 50 internet safety tips.

UW Credit Union is committed to providing financial education, helping our members and communities build their financial savviness to make empowered decisions. We offer free learning seminars, confidential credit consultations and, through our partnership with Banzai, an impressive catalog of financial education resources.

Here for every you.

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