Dos and don’ts of online shopping

By Eudora Kelley   |   18 August 2015   |   11:32 pm  

OnlineOnline shopping is a form of electronic commerce, which allows purchase of goods and services to be made over the computer from a seller over the Internet using a web browser.

Online store/virtual store is an online shop, which evokes the physical analogy of buying products or services at a bricks-and-mortar retailer or shopping centre. The largest of these online retailing corporations are Amazon.com and eBay.

With the temperatures soaring, the weather may make it impossible to venture out for anything. The scorching heat can be a turn-off even for a die-hard shopaholic, who has now found a new venue to indulge “online shopping”. With the sites offering huge discounts, it becomes even more imperative to not get carried away by it all. Online shopping is convenient and easy, with online shopping now part of our daily lives, it helps to be as street smart as you would if you went to a mall. There are some things that you need to keep in mind while shopping online, because it can quickly turn into a nightmare if done carelessly. Find out the most important dos and don’ts when it comes to safely navigating your way through the World Wide Web of online shopping.

DOS
Do know where you are. Hackers try to spoof legitimate sites and use names similar to those of established retailers to get your financial information. “Always check the name of the site and Web address to make sure it looks correct. Also, look out for domain extensions like .ru, .cc or .cn (instead of .com), because legitimate retailers do not often use them.

Read the conditions behind the product. “Just for clicks” is common tactics that most online shopping sites use to monitor the number of visitors on the site. While making a purchase, make sure you read the terms and conditions associated with the product. There are times when a certain offer is valid only on purchase worth a certain amount, or buy one get one free offer on identical products, etc.

Do verify the site is secure. Look for “https” in the address bar, or look for a tiny padlock icon in the lower right-hand corner of your browser before you check out to confirm the site has a certificate verifying its identity as an online business. A site’s certificate can be invalidated if it expires, is not verifiable or has been reported to have some problem. If you receive a pop-up warning, it is best to avoid the site altogether. It’s also best to avoid sites that don’t list contact phone numbers. As an extra precautionary measure, searching the name of the site you’re on along with the word “fraud” to see if other people have had trouble with it is recommended. Websites such as RipoffReport.com keep tabs on fraudulent sites, so check there too.

Get familiar with the return policy of a purchase. Since it is a virtual platform, you do not get to check the product first hand, so there are chances that you might not like it on arrival. Make sure you go through their return and refund policy whenever you shop online as you can either get it exchanged or exchange product or get a refund. Some sites do not refund your money instead they transfer the amount into your credit account wherein you are forced to repurchase from their site.

Play safe and choose COD. Cash on Delivery (COD) is the best payment option of which you can avail yourself, as part of online shopping. This is the safest bet, since you pay only after you are handed the product. Most online sites do not allow you to open the product before paying. This prevents you from being able to return it then and there. Print and save the confirmation page (your receipt) when completing an online purchase.

Compare sites to check products’ authenticity. Although you choose to buy a product from a particular site due to the discounts it offers, do not forget to compare the product and its price on two to three different sites. This will give you clarity if you are actually availing a discount or it is just superficial. Make sure to check the manufacturer details and confirm if that particular site has online rights to sell the product.

Be responsible. Remember, once you make a transaction online you have legally committed to purchasing that item. The purchase will show up on your next credit card billing statement, and keep in mind you often pay-shipping fees to have your purchases delivered.

Check your credit-card bill. If you do a lot of shopping online, review your credit card accounts regularly to make sure there aren’t any unauthorised purchases. Heimerl recommends that you print out your receipts or put e-mail receipts into a separate folder so that you can check your statements against your receipts.

He uses only one of his credit cards for online purchases, so he was able to catch an unauthorised purchase quickly when another of his credit cards was used to buy something on the Web.

Do make sure your computer has the latest anti-virus software installed. Microsoft essential is the best free anti–virus, make sure you have it installed if you can’t purchase an anti–virus

Things to avoid
Don’t use your personal or business email. Instead, both of our experts recommend setting up a separate address to use whenever a site requests it. You’ll avoid overloading your inbox with messages from retailers, but will still be able to check out any special promotions or coupons they may be offering. Plus, if this address is ever hacked, you’ll be jeopardising less than if it were your primary one.

Don’t shop on public computers. Entering personal information on a public computer, like one at a coffee shop or bookstore, puts you at risk of having your information stolen. Those networks are easy for hackers to gain access to, and businesses offering wireless service rarely monitor or control access. “Shared computers that can be found at hotels, libraries and other locations can be infected with spyware or have keystroke loggers installed. These programmes report your credit card information to whoever installed them. If you absolutely have to use a public computer, try scanning it first with a free tool like Microsoft Malicious Software Removal.

Don’t trust every deal you see on social-networking sites. Twitter and Facebook can be smart ways to stay on top of deals. But note that the URLs on Twitter (and sometimes Facebook) are often shortened, so you won’t know whether you’re landing on a legitimate retailer’s site by clicking the link.

One option is to use a deal notification you see on Twitter as a tip, then research the details on your own. And don’t get drawn in by emails offering cheap deals on popular items and gifts. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is a scam.

Don’t wire money to pay for an item. If you purchase an item from an online auction site, such as eBay, and the seller asks you to wire your payment, don’t do it. Heimerl says wiring money is inviting yourself to a fraud situation, because you have no way of getting your money back if the item you purchase never arrives. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if you don’t get what you paid for.

Don’t share your passwords with anyone. Many websites will ask you to establish a password to buy from them. Use different passwords for different websites and keep them complex. It can be hard to remember the passwords, so keep them written down and in a secret spot.
Don’t wait for paper statements. Check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity by calling your bank or visiting your bank’s website.

Purchasing online for the first time can be a little intimidating. But even after you become accustomed to the format, it’s important to scrutinise every purchase. So be careful before and after you click “buy”.

Don’t buy food products online. It is difficult to personally go grocery shopping or buy fruits on a regular basis. There are many sites that claim to sell the purest form of food products, especially organic food or health products at reasonable rates. Do not fall for these offers as fresh produce and health products should be bought over the counter to ensure authenticity.

Moreover, health products should be bought from reputed stores since there are chances of you ending up with fake product online. Similarly, organic food products are extremely expensive and rarely come at discounted rate.

Don’t reload confirmation pages that fail to load. A site may accidentally charge you multiple times if you keep trying to reload a confirmation page. Instead, contact the retailer directly to make sure your order went through. You can also check your credit card statement to confirm a charge was posted.
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Financial product and services

Financial services are the economic services provided by the finance industry, which encompasses a broad range of businesses that manage money, including unions, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, accountancy companies, consumer finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds, real estate funds and some government sponsored enterprises.

The Financial Services Regulation Coordinating Committee (FSRCC) is a statutory committee comprising regulators in the Nigerian financial services industry.

Commercial banking services
A “commercial bank” is what is commonly referred to as simply a “bank”. The term “commercial” is used to distinguish it from an “investment bank,” a type of financial services entity, which instead of lending money directly to a business, helps businesses raise money from other firms in the form of bonds (debt) or stock (equity).
The primary operations of banks include
Keeping money safe while also allowing withdrawals when needed.
Issuance of cheque books so that bills can be paid and other kinds of payments delivered by post.
Provide personal loans, commercial loans, and mortgage loans (typically loans to purchase a home, property or business.)
Issuance of credit cards and processing of credit card transactions and billing.
Issuance of debit cards for use as a substitute for cheques.
Allow financial transactions at branches or by using Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).
Provide wire transfers of funds and electronic fund transfers between banks.
Facilitation of standing orders and direct debits, so payments for bills can be made automatically.
Provide overdraft agreements for the temporary advancement of the bank’s own money to meet monthly spending commitments of a customer in their current account.
Provide Internet banking system to facilitate the customers to view and operate their respective accounts through the Internet.
Provide charge card advances of the bank’s own money for customers wishing to settle credit advances monthly.
Provide a cheque guaranteed by the bank itself and prepaid by the customer, such as a cashier’s cheque or certified cheque.
Notary service for financial and other documents.
Accepting the deposits from customer and providing the credit facilities to them.
Sell investment products like mutual funds etc.
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Airplanes and cleaning crew

The cleanliness of the interiors of domestic airplanes leaves a lot to be desired. Next time you board a plane, check out the tray tables and the seat pockets, you are likely to find food crumbs and used tissues.
In the past, it was common to see cleaning crew board the plane and clean them as the passengers disembarked. This is a far cry these days as planes are turned around and out bound passengers loaded almost immediately.
My advice to the travelling public is pack wipes for that trip. A new study from Auburn University in Alabama has found that disease-causing germs can live for more than a week on surfaces that passengers touch and come in contact with.
Airplane toilets are another area to be wary of, be armed with wipes before you approach them, wiping down door handles and other areas.
A callout to the relevant authorities to be on the alert and to crack down on erring airlines may be necessary to ensure that the planes are thoroughly cleaned after each landing.

Next week: Investment Services and Capital Market Services.
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