Safer On­line Shop­ping Savvy tips: ev­ery­thing you need to know

Ev­ery­thing you need to know about safe and savvy on­line shop­ping

ZOOMER Magazine - - CON­TENTS MARCH 2018 - By Marc Saltz­man

lOVE ON­LINE SHOP­PING? You’re not alone. After all, you don’t have to fight traf­fic to drive to the mall and cir­cle the park­ing lot; on­line stores are open 24-7, and you can shop in your py­ja­mas; it’s 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.

Look for the lock Al­ways use a se­cure in­ter­net con­nec­tion when mak­ing a pur­chase. Rep­utable web­sites use tech­nolo­gies such as SSL (Se­cure Socket Layer) that en­crypt data dur- ing 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.

Pay se­curely On a re­lated note, 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 soft­ware 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 (“ma­li­cious soft­ware”) that in­cludes anti-virus and a fire­wall.

Do your home­work When on auc­tion sites like eBay, check the seller’s rep­u­ta­tion and read com­ments be­fore buy­ing a prod­uct to see what the ex­pe­ri­ence was like for past cus­tomers. Also, don’t for­get about the No. 1 tip about shop­ping: if it seems too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is. You won’t find an iPhone X for $300.

Use good 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!”

MO­BILE PAY­MENTS 101

Ever no­tice how line­ups at re­tail aren’t as long as they used to be?

Per­haps this has some­thing to do with the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of elec­tronic wal­let apps, which work with your mo­bile de­vice – such as a smart­phone or smart­watch – so you can pay for some­thing with a sim­ple tap or wave at a check­out counter.

Also re­ferred to as mo­bile pay­ments, these elec­tronic wal­lets (ewal­lets) are not only fast and easy to set up and use, but they’re widely ac­cepted, se­cure and of­fer other ben­e­fits to the shop­per and re­tailer.

How does it work? The premise is sim­ple: Cana­di­ans can use a com­pat­i­ble smart­phone or smart­watch to make a pur­chase at sup­ported re­tail­ers – even if they’ve left their cash or cards at home.

Phones can serve as an e-wal­let if they’re em­bed­ded with near field com­mu­ni­ca­tion (NFC), a short­range wire­less ra­dio tech­nol­ogy that lets you sim­ply touch a mer­chant ter­mi­nal – the same ones that sup­port those tap-and-go con­tact­less credit cards like Visa’s payWave and MasterCard’s PayPass, which also use NFC tech­nol­ogy.

Pur­chases usu­ally get capped at $100 or so, but no PIN is re­quired to com­plete the pur­chase – a con­ve­nience boon for both the cus­tomer and re­tailer. (Since your phone re­quires a code or fin­ger­print to un­lock, your ac­count is safe if you lose your de­vice.)

Most mo­bile pay­ment so­lu­tions to­day are tied to an app pro­vided by a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion, with most of Canada’s ma­jor banks on­board.

Plenty of op­tions You can use your smart­phone or smart­watch any­where con­tact­less pay­ments are ac­cepted, which means thou­sands of mer­chants across Canada.

The process is sim­i­lar be­tween the big mo­bile pay­ment providers, such as Ap­ple Pay (for iPhone), Sam­sung Pay (for Sam­sung de­vices) or An­droid Pay (for An­droid phones). If it’s not al­ready pre­loaded onto your de­vice, you down­load the app and then scan your credit or debit card (or type in the de­tails).

For pur­chases more than $100, ewal­lets usu­ally re­quire you to val­i­date your­self at point of pur­chase. With Ap­ple Pay, for ex­am­ple, you’ll place your fin­ger or thumbprint on the iPhone’s cir­cu­lar Home but­ton to prove it’s you (“bio­met­rics au­then­ti­ca­tion”) or have your face scanned with iPhone X (since the Home but­ton is gone). Other so­lu­tions may re­quire a PIN code.

These ma­jor play­ers do not dis­close any­one’s fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion; it ex­changes a unique nu­mer­i­cal “to­ken” in­stead of ac­tual credit or debit card num­bers with the re­tailer. And there is no cost for shop­pers to use these mo­bile pay­ment so­lu­tions.

If you’re in­trigued by mo­bile pay­ments but would rather dip your toe in the wa­ter than dive in head first, try buy­ing some­thing in­ex­pen­sive with your smart­phone the next time you’re out, such as a cup of cof­fee or mag­a­zine, and you’ll see it’s a fast, con­ve­nient and se­cure way to pay.

5 GREAT SHOP­PING APPS TO SAVE YOU MONEY

Whether you like to shop on­line or at re­tail, arm­ing your smart­phone with the right apps can save you time, money and frus­tra­tion.

Not all of them work the same way, but we’ve com­piled a list of our favourites for Cana­dian shop­pers.

Here are five wor­thy picks for both iOS and An­droid de­vices.

1 Flipp Con­sider Flipp the ul­ti­mate flyer ag­gre­ga­tor. Avail­able for smart­phones and tablets, sim­ply use your fin­ger­tip to se­lect what re­tail­ers mat­ter to you – whether it’s an elec­tron­ics store, cloth­ing chain or su­per­mar­ket, and so on – and you’ll be able to see the lat­est fly­ers that show­case new prod­ucts and sales around you. Clip favourites, add items to your shop­ping list, see dis­counted items and much more.

2 Ebates It’s one thing to save money while shop­ping smartly, but what about earn­ing money? The free Ebates app pays mem­bers cash back ev­ery time you shop on­line through par­tic­i­pat­ing re­tail­ers. Here’s how it works: sign up for a free ac­count and then ev­ery time you shop at one of the sup­ported stores (and there are many),

you’ll start earn­ing cash that can be sent to you via cheque or de­posited into a PayPal ac­count.

3 Re­tailMeNot One of the most pop­u­lar coupon sites and apps, Re­tailMeNot of­fers more than 500,000 coupons that can be re­deemed at more than 50,000 re­tail and on­line stores in North Amer­ica, so chances are you’ll find what you’re look­ing for after typ­ing in a prod­uct name in the search win­dow. Each coupon shows you when it was used last, user com­ments and more. Also con­sider apps from Shop.ca, Save.ca and RedFlagDeals.

4 ShopSavvy If you’re hop­ing to find a bar­gain while shop­ping at re­tail, ShopSavvy takes ad­van­tage of your smart­phone’s cam­era by let­ting you scan bar­codes of prod­ucts in front of you. Within a sec­ond or two, you’ll see how much the same prod­uct costs on­line or nearby at a com­pet­ing store via the phone’s GPS – in­clud­ing the op­tion for di­rec­tions to the stores that have the prod­uct cheaper. As you can sur­mise, re­tail­ers don’t re­ally like this one. 5 Mar­ket­places While shop­ping at re­tail is fine, don’t for­get about on­line mar­ket­places such as eBay, Ki­jiji and even Ama­zon. Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, not all goods on eBay are “pre­vi­ously en­joyed” (more than half are brand new) and, if you don’t want to bid for some­thing, many items can be pur­chased out­right. Owned by eBay is Ki­jiji, Canada’s No. 1 most pop­u­lar on­line clas­si­fieds site that also lets you meet up to buy or sell in per­son.

SCOR­ING A GREAT DEAL WHILE ON­LINE SHOP­PING

We all have that friend who al­ways seems to get the best deals while shop­ping. Oh, you know the one. You spend $120 on de­signer jeans, and they seem to find the ex­act same pair for $50. And their 4kTV is big­ger, thin­ner and smarter – yet you paid the same amount. What do they know that you don’t? Well, per­haps they’re shop­ping on­line, where you can often find great deals among the highly com­pet­i­tive land­scape. And the prod­ucts will ship to your door, to boot.

If you’re look­ing to save some se­ri­ous cash in 2018, let’s look at a few ways to score a great deal while on­line shop­ping.

Re­search rules Be­cause you’ve got many thou­sands of stores at your fin­ger­tips, be sure to re­search prices on the web – and it helps when you know ex­actly what you’re look­ing for. Plus, there are price com­par­i­son sites that can do the work for you, such as price­grab­ber.com and redflagdeals.com. If you shop on­line, be sure to fac­tor in ship­ping costs. Speak­ing of re­search, also read re­views from both crit­ics and cus­tomers, to avoid buy­ing a dud, on pop­u­lar sites such as ama­zon.ca.

App it up Smart­phone and tablet own­ers have no short­age of great apps to help you save money. For ex­am­ple, eBates.ca gives you cash back on pur­chases you make on­line (the per­cent­age varies by re­tailer), while Re­tailMeNot of­fers many thou­sands of coupons and codes to snag a bar­gain. Most of these apps have web­site equiv­a­lents, too, in case you pre­fer to shop us­ing a per­sonal com­puter in­stead of a mo­bile de­vice.

War­ranty wise Whether you buy at re­tail or on­line, it gen­er­ally doesn’t pay to buy an ex­tended war­ranty for your con­sumer elec­tron­ics, as they aren’t likely to break down dur­ing the ex­tended ser­vice con­tract pe­riod. Con­sumer Re­ports also warns of ex­tended war­ranties that have fine-print terms that limit or void your claims. That said, if the ex­tended war­ranty is very af­ford­able (com­pared to the over­all cost) and can ex­tend the war­ranty pe­riod sig­nif­i­cantly, per­haps it’s worth the peace of mind.

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