How to Safely Shop Online in Dubai and Elsewhere

Sunday, March 17, 2013

As an owner of Lavalier Dubai, an online jewelry shop in Dubai, I take e-commerce security very seriously. My blog isn’t only to showcase Lavalier’s new arrivals and latest jewelry trends but to raise awareness on how to safely and securely shop online. Many people have their reservations about putting their credit card information on a site, especially in the UAE and the Middle East. But if you do a little research and follow the steps below, you will find that there are several ways to make orders safely and securely.  

How is Online Shopping Secure?

The money we spend online is increasing at an exceptional pace because it’s easy, fast and, nine times out of ten, cheaper than the malls (this is especially true when shopping in Dubai). This comes as great news for people who love browsing the net for the latest trends and styles but how can you make sure that the site you are dealing with is trustworthy? The best way to do this is to determine what secure online shopping is and what to look for to avoid scams.

Online shops use technology which protects the personal information you input when you make an order. In short, your credit card details are scrambled so that they can't be seen by anyone, especially those who aim to capture your account details and use it to buy items (online or off). Scrambling the information eliminates this issue as the online shop can only see the last 4 digits of your credit card number, your shipping and billing information and your email address.

Another way of combating unsafe online shopping in Dubai and elsewhere is to use the Cash on Delivery (COD) payment option. At Lavalier Dubai, we use this option so our customers can rest assured that they will pay only when the items are delivered. (we offer free shipping in the UAE, too!)

But the best way to check out safely and securely is by using PayPal. As the company’s tagline suggests, they are the “safest way to pay and receive money online”. Since this is a 3rd party account, the online shop will not have any access to your payment information except for your name and address. I have been personally using it for years as a merchant and as a consumer and I am extremely happy with their service.

As for determining if the online shop is secure, I use a handy checklist whenever I am making a purchase online and luckily, I have never been scammed nor had my identity stolen.

Here are few things to look for before you make your purchase.

  • Is there an unbroken key or closed lock in your internet browser window?

These icons reveal that the internet shop is protected. When the key is broken or the lock is opened, the internet shop isn't protected. You should check that the online store website address starts off with "https" instead of "http" when you're supplying personal data, like your credit card number. This shows that you are in a secure part of the web store. If you see the text "Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)", occasionally inside a pop-up window, you know you are shopping in a secure and safe website.

  • Did you read the fine print?

Before you proceed to check out, it is absolutely necessary to take the time and read everything the shop has to say. Many customers skip this step and end up regretting it afterwards. Read things like their privacy policy, their shipping and returns policy and how long it takes the item to reach you.

  • Is there a phone number you can call in case you don’t receive you package?

Many shops have a customer service hotline in case something is wrong with your order. If they don’t have a number, they must have an email address in their contact page. If they don't, it's best to stay clear. A little tip I learned is to sendtheir customer service and email before the purchase to see their response time. If it’s more than two days, skip the site and go to the next one.

  • Did you check their scam rating?

A great tool to use prior to purchasing something online is to check their scam rating. I use Scam Advisor to see the website information like where they are located and how long the site has been running. The longer the life of the site, the safer it is. It also check their email address: if it's a free one (like @gmail.com) it's risky. But that doesn't mean it's not a legit site.

  • Did you read the reviews?

Online shoppers usually take to review sites, like TrustPilot, to share their experiences. It’s a great way to see how well, or bad, the order process went. Simply go on Google and search [website name] + review to see what customers have to say.

I post a lot of reviews on my blog whenever I shop online. I have reviewed many online shopping sites like MyTheresa.com, YesStyle.com and Shopbop.com just to name a few. I highly recommend you do the same after any purchase so that you can help other shoppers.  

Online shopping allows you to have access to a variety of goods from around the world and when you have checked all the above points, you can be confident that your purchase is now being made safely and you can look ahead to getting your order to your doorstep, hassle-free!

7 comments:

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