In a brick and mortar store, or IRL (In Real Life) shopping is often fairly straightforward. You select a merchant, enter the store, and browse for what you need. After you select the item that fits your needs, you present it at a register, pay the amount owed, and take your new find home. It's basically the same online, right?
An online transaction is much more than simply purchasing and paying. Instead, it is best to think of online shopping as a series of steps on a checklist. For your best online shopping experience, make sure that all of these steps are completed before you consider the purchase complete.
Know your store.
Read the fine print.
Really, read it. We read the details the merchant provides regarding what you can expect once you've shopped with them. Will your email address end up on their mailing list? Do they offer any discounts or special offers that can save you money? Consider the details especially if you're purchasing a service or a subscription of some kind. Don't have time to read the fine print? Copy and paste it or save it in some other format for later review.
Choose your funding wisely.
Remember, in another article, I explained why it's so important to choose your purchase method carefully. If at all possible, don't use an account that will link to all of your money.
Review the receipt.
Once you've completed your purchase, look over the receipt. Once you've made sure it's correct, print it out or save it on your computer for later reference. If you notice any errors, contact the merchant immediately.
Review the financial details.
Whether the funds are withdrawn immediately or days later, check them. Make sure the right amount was taken from the right account. Again, if there are any discrepancies with what you expected to see and what's actually in front of you, contact the merchant right away.
Before you say anything, wait to receive your purchase.
Did you purchase a membership that offered instant activation? Did you make an overseas purchase that will take weeks to arrive? Either way, give it a few days before you write any positive reviews or complaints. Be sure that you are satisfied with the entire experience.
Once you've checked these steps off of your checklist, breathe. You just did everything you could to make your online shopping experience a safe one.