How to be a savvy online shopper

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We’ve all been there. You order that sweet hat, shirt, or pair of shoes online, wait what feels like years (okay, six-to-eight business days), only to open the box and realize it’s not exactly what you ordered.

In the age of one-click shopping and the ability to seamlessly shop on the ’gram, it can be easy to fall into the trap of convenient retail therapy and end up schemed Fyre Festival style.

How do you make sure your next online purchase won’t be one you regret? We’ve got your covered.

Is the website secure?

You can easily tell if a browser is secure by looking at the title of the website. Last year, Google Chrome announced that web addresses beginning with “https” are secure sites and “http” indicates the site may not be secure. Double-check before typing in your credit card info. A secure website offers you—and your precious credit card information—more protection.

On the couch or in the wild—where are you making your purchases?

It’s great to be connected to the world anywhere and everywhere you go—including having the ability to impulse buy something when you’re out and about. But when you use public Wi-Fi, you never know who has access to your data. Protect yourself, your passwords, and your credit card info by only shopping when you’re on a secure Wi-Fi network.

Do your homework.

Sure, Kendall Jenner might be sporting the new bag you keep seeing Instagram ads for, but just because an influencer is hawking wares doesn’t mean it’s a safe bet. Check out a retailers’ online presence before getting out your plastic.

A quick search might be able to tell you if a product, brand, or retail site is worth it or if it’s more of a buyer beware type of situation. This includes doing your homework. An Instagram page can tell you a lot if you know what to look for. Read the comments—do they seem like they were written by actual humans or are they the generic one-word/emoji responses from bots? Do they have millions of followers, but only hundreds of likes on their posts? These are some of the tell-tale signs of a less than legitimate social media presence, which in turn, should raise some warning flags about forking over your personal information.

Finally, don’t forget to check the refund or return policy. This way, if your item is a dud you can always return it and get your money back.

Happy shopping.

Online shopping can be incredibly convenient when you’re pressed for time or if you’re looking for something specific. There are lots of legitimate options out there, just make sure you’re being a savvy consumer. When in doubt, the $7 pair of leggings might not be worth the hassle and headache of identity/credit card theft.

And if you’ve got the extra five minutes it takes to venture into a brick and mortar store, consider shopping at a local small business instead. That way, your information is a little safer and you get the added benefit of supporting a member of your community. It’s win/win for everyone.