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To buy online is more and more common, and in Spain over 22 million people benefit from it. Please take into consideration all you need to know to enjoy safe and secure electronic shopping.

E-commerce or online shopping has undergone a huge increase in recent years, and the COVID restrictions were the final push many people needed to start buying online.

E-commerce has many advantages, but there are also online threats and it is very important to take precautions. This guide to buy online will give you all you need to know to avoid nasty surprises.

1. Update your device

First step before purchasing online is to update your device. What does that mean? It means that, before you start, you need to spend some time to prepare it so you can buy safely and prevent possible threats.

If you do not have one yet, to install an antivirus software is the first thing to do.

After you have installed protection software for your PC or mobile, run a scan to search for viruses to make sure the device is free of any threats.

In addition, keep your operating system updated, as well as the browser. This will help to prevent attacks and infections, since you will have the latest security patches to protect your equipment.

2. Be careful with public WiFi networks

As we have explained in other articles, public WiFi hotspots carry many threats and do not offer any security.

And since anyone can connect to it, a malicious user may want to take advantage of the network to extract private transaction data. If you purchase online on a public WiFi, an IT pirate could intercept the communications carried out during the transaction to access your personal and payment information.

Therefore, it is best to use your home WiFi for online purchases, and if you are out you can use your mobile data instead.

3. Check that the online store is trusted

There are millions of online shops, and many have been created by malicious users with the sole purpose of scamming users to steal their data and money. Therefore, to check that the online business is legitimate is another step you must take before placing the order.

If you are going to use the online shop of a physical store you know and trust, please make sure that you access the website writing the address on the address bar of your web browser. Avoid using links you receive by email or see in social media, since these are often used for phishing attacks that try to scam you.

Before placing the order, it is important to make sure that the web page is HTTPS, which indicates that the information is transmitted encrypted, and that it has a security certificate which matches the domain. Therefore, check that a padlock symbol is showing before the URL, and also that the certificate has been given to the web page you are browsing.

4. Protect your online shop account (if you are required to create one)

Many online shops ask you to register to make purchases. If you have already checked that the store is trusted and you are going to create an account for online purchases, it is important to protect as much as possible this new profile you are going to open.

Most likely you already know many tips for secure passwords, but we are going to summarize the most important ones to refresh your memory. Choose a password you have not used for any other service, and has a minimum length of eight characters, combines upper and lower case, numbers and special characters.

Avoid using simple words in any language, as well as obvious personal information, such as pet names or names of family, dates of birth or anniversaries. Avoid also the most used passwords.

In addition to choosing a strong password, if the online store allows 2-step verification, take advantage of this function to maximize your account protection.

5. Pay attention to the terms and conditions of the purchase

To safely buy online, and before placing the order, it is important to carefully check the sales conditions of the online store. You can often find at the bottom of the web site a link to terms and conditions, where the establishment gives out all the information related to the transactions: payment methods, delivery conditions (time, cost), guarantee, return policy and reclamations.

If you cannot find this information or if there some aspects that are not clear, or you have doubts, it could be a false store.

6. Do not trust impossible deals

We all like to save money and get the best offers, but there are deals that simply are too good to be true. If you see product with a price tag well below its normal market value, this should raise your suspicions because it is most likely a scam.

Cyber criminals take advantage of social media, of messaging apps such as WhatsApp or of email to spread false offers and shops. Therefore, you must be extra careful with promotions that might look extremely good, even if you see these on the Net or in social media.

7. Choose your payment method carefully

Choosing carefully your method of payment is one of the keys for safe online shopping. Next, we will tell you the most common options available in online stores:

Pay on delivery. This is one of the most secure and convenient forms of payments for the user. You do not have to give out your bank details, and you make the payment when the product is received. However, it offers the least guarantees for the store, so you will not find it on some web sites, and in others there could be an extra charge if you choose this option.

Bank transfer. The buyer does not need to give out bank details on the Internet, so there is no risk of theft. However, to recover the money in case of any issue might be a problem, especially if it is an international transfer. It is not one of the most common payment methods, and there are many shops that do not offer it.

Bank card. The most used form of payment when shopping online. Since it is necessary to give out the card information to make the payment, we recommend to use a prepaid card with a limited amount of credit that you can use exclusively for online purchases.

Payment using PayPal and other intermediaries. This is the safest form of payment for online shopping. A trusted company such as PayPal or other intermediary manages the banking information of both parties, so you do not have to give out your bank information.

8. Your rights after purchasing online

Clients who purchase online have a series of guarantees and rights. Before placing your order, always check the purchase conditions, time of delivery and return period. This is to make sure that the store will respond adequately in case any problem arises.

When purchasing online, you have the same guarantees that a physical store offers. The products sold online abide by the same rules of purchase of goods. However, bear in mind that to be covered by this guarantee, the store must be registered in Spain.

Any product that you buy online has a two year guarantee, whether it is new or second hand, even though the latter have certain special conditions. During this period, the repair and substitution of the purchased product is free of charge for the consumer.