Last year, Americans spent $450 billion in online stores, 10.3 percent more than they did in 2012. Online sales are a massive growth area, with Internet sales increasing more than twice as fast as overall retail sales. Internet stores make shopping so easy, bringing the retail experience into our homes, our workplaces, and anywhere else we browse at any time of the day or night. However, the ease of online shopping can also make us complacent. Remember the following tips next time you prepare to make an online purchase.
1. Shop with Companies You Know
It’s smart to stick with well-known online retailers and major stores when shopping online. These typically have comprehensive security measures to keep your transactions safe.
If your heart is set on a product on a website you don’t know, do a little research on the site to make sure that it’s a reputable online outlet. There are review sites that give star ratings and comments for a variety of online outlets. Low star ratings are a clue that a site is best avoided.
Also make sure that you’re shopping where you think you are. Some scammers have been known to establish copycat websites which have a misspelled URL address or use a different top-level domain. They might seem to offer great deals, but these are simply a ploy to encourage you to share your information. Cast a critical eye over the site before you reach for your credit card.
2. Look for the Padlock
At a bare minimum, the sites you shop from should have secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption. You can recognize this if the page where you enter your card details has an URL starting with HTTPS://. A padlock icon will also appear, either in the status bar at the bottom of your browser or next to the URL address. Unless you can see both these security features, keep your card details to yourself.
3. Beware of Public Wi-Fi
In January this year, Americans used smartphones and tablet apps more than personal computers to access the Internet for the first time ever. This milestone heralded a shift that’s been coming for some time. Mobile browsing is becoming the norm, and so is mobile shopping. However, this practice can bring a host of new security risks.
People planning on shopping securely on their mobile devices should carefully consider their Wi-Fi connection. Public Wi-Fi can put your card details at jeopardy, so make sure you only shop on a private network that’s password-protected. A virtual private network, or VPN, will offer an extra layer of protection.
4. Protect Your Gadgets
Whether you’ll shopping on a mobile device, desktop, or laptop, it’s important to protect your device. Cases of malware are at record highs, with 15 million new samples appearing in the first quarter of 2014 at a staggering rate of more than 160,000 new samples every day. Anti-virus programs are still one of the best ways to protect your technology against the threat of malware, viruses, and identity theft.
Install software updates when you’re prompted. These often include extra security features that will make your devices safer to use.
Also make sure you password-protect your devices and various online accounts. It’s safest to use complex passwords made up of capital letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the names of your pets or family members, your birthday, your home address, or other obvious choices as thieves can easily guess these.
5. Shop with Credit
While you can shop online with some debit cards, it’s safer to choose credit. Federal law protects credit card users from fraud by limiting individual liability to just $50. Some generous card issuers, including all Visa and MasterCard issuers, even waive this $50 fee or pay it themselves to reward your loyalty.
It’s also a good idea to open a credit card exclusively for online transactions. This will make it easier to detect unusual activity that occurs as a result of an online breach. Some card issuers also offer one-time virtual card numbers which can be used safely for single transactions.
With the above tips in mind, your online shopping experience can be as safe as it is satisfying.
Here’s A Hack To Get Free Internet On Your Next Flight
A few years ago, the airlines introduced Gogo Inflight Internet service, and it was a real game changer. While the service isn’t always the fastest, it’s a great way to pass the time on long flights, letting you stay current on e-mails, bang out a few blog posts, or just waste time on Facebook or Twitter.
The only problem? It’s ridiculously expensive!
As such, I typically load my iPad with movies and books beforehand, and just deal with e-mail and such once I arrive at my destination. But on a recent 6-hour cross country flight, I ran out of stuff to watch, so I decided to check out the movies that Delta had to offer. And that’s when I accidently discovered a loophole that gave me free Internet access.
You see, in order to watch a movie on your smartphone or tablet, you need to download the Gogo app. And when I clicked on the link to download the app, a funny thing happened – I started receiving notifications from Facebook?! That’s right, in order to download the Gogo app, they temporarily give you Internet access, which you can then use for whatever you want.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Connect to the Gogo Wifi network
- Head over to the Gogo homepage (it should bring you there by default when you open your browser)
- Browse the movie library and find a movie
- Click on the movie and select “Watch Now”
- After you type in the CAPTCHA code, it’ll ask you whether or not you have the Gogo app
- By selecting “Download on the App Store” you will be taken to the App Store from Safari
- Leave the App Store once Gogo takes you there
- You are now connected to Gogo Inflight WiFi and can browse freely
When you think about it, the method used here is rather straight forward. In order to download the Gogo app, you’re provided with temporary Internet connectivity. Once that’s enabled, you’re given a period of time to begin the download. But instead of using your Wi-Fi connection to download the app, you can start browsing to your heart’s content.
After about 15-20 minutes, the Internet will stop working, and in order to get online, you’ll have to repeat the process again. The first time this happened to me, I couldn’t believe it. But a quick Google search for How to Get Free Gogo Inflight WiFi showed me that this “hack” has been going on for some time now, and it appears to work on multiple airlines.
Naturally, we don’t condone the stealing of Internet service.. So use this information at your own risk. 🙂
7 Ways Shopping On Amazon Costs You More Money
In an effort to drive up Prime subscriptions, Amazon recently increased its free shipping threshold from $35 to $49, a jump of nearly 30%. While book buyers can still avoid delivery charges on orders of $25 or more, most other products sold on Amazon will fall under the new shipping minimum.
This is a bold move for the online retailer who is often credited with driving the demand for free shipping when it originally offered its Super Saving Shipping rate of $25. With the current shipping threshold nearly double that, you may be wondering if Amazon is still the best place to shop.
Read on for seven ways in which Amazon isn’t the best deal:
1. Limited price-matching policy
In response to Amazon’s popularity with consumers, stores like Best Buy, Target and even Walmart will price match Amazon, making it easy for in-store shoppers to get a better price and have the product immediately. Amazon does offer a TV Low Price Guarantee for select television purchases, but otherwise they don’t price match their competitors on anything else.
2. Higher free shipping minimums
While Amazon was once known as offering one of the lowest shipping minimums of online retailers, that story is quickly changing. Target offers free shipping on orders of $25 or more, while retailers like Zappos, LL Bean and Nordstrom offer free shipping year-round. Many retailers waive shipping fees during holiday weekends and shoppers increasingly turn to deal sites like CouponSherpa.com for coupon codes to save on delivery charges.
3. Mirage of better prices
Despite popular belief, Amazon does not have the best prices all around. An article in TIME last year found Jet.com had better prices on select brands of laundry detergent, paper towels and gourmet coffee compared to Amazon. Jet’s shipping threshold remains at $35, making this relative newbie a better value than veteran Amazon on select products. What’s more, a 2014 report from Wells Fargo found Target and Walmart have better prices on shoes, home goods, health products and even electronics.
4. Slower shipping
Orders that meet or exceed the $49 threshold will still take the longest to arrive, with Amazon estimating 5-8 business days for free delivery. This again puts them at a competitive disadvantage with Jet, which promotes free 2-5 day shipping once the order threshold is met. Barnes & Noble promises delivery in 2-6 days. Other retailers like Target and Home Depot do their best to fulfill online orders from local stores to deliver faster.
5. Pricier membership costs
Though an Amazon Prime offers more than just free two-day shipping, most members value the delivery perk over access to music and streaming content. ShopRunner offers its two-day shipping membership for $79 per year (or free for AMEX cardholders) which is $20 less than Amazon and works with popular retailers like Toys ‘R Us, Staples and American Eagle. Even Barnes & Noble offers a shipping membership for just $25 which offers free 1-3 day delivery on all orders, plus 40-percent off hardcover best sellers and 10% storewide discounts.
6. Return shipping fees
Online shoppers are increasingly asking for free return shipping, a perk not offered by Amazon Prime despite the $99 annual fee. Target, however, offers free return shipping on all online purchases, no membership required. Plus, stores like Best Buy and Home Depot offer free in-store returns on online orders, making it less expensive in some cases for shoppers to order online from these retailers.
7. Dynamic pricing tricks
Like other online retailers, Amazon adjusts prices on popular items several times in a single day to maximize profitability, a practice commonly referred to as dynamic pricing. Buy at the wrong time and you could spend more than triple the lowest listed price without knowing it. Luckily, several online tools exist to help you combat these ever-changing prices. InvisibleHand is a browser extension which notifies you when something you’re shopping for is better priced elsewhere, while The Traktor checks price histories instantly so you know the best time to buy without leaving the site.
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she’s been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes and more. For more info, visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily savings advice and tips.
This Guy Got Fired From His $200K/Year Job After Uploading This Video
A former CFO is now on food stamps after a video he posted on YouTube back in 2012 criticizing Chick-Fil-A went viral and destroyed his career.
Adam Smith was the CFO of a medical device manufacturer in Tucson, Arizona, and life was good. Until one day in the summer of 2012, when he decided to protest Chick-Fil-A’s anti-gay stance. Not by boycotting the fast food chain like most people would, but by being a dick and berating a poor drive-thru attendant who had nothing to do with it. And he videotaped the encounter for good measure, which he then posted on YouTube.
“Chick-Fil-A is a hateful corporation,” Smith said to the drive-thru attendant. “I don’t know how you live with yourself and work here. I don’t understand it. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values. You deserve better.”
He felt pretty good about his actions, but when he got back to work, he was in for a major shock. “I got into work and the receptionist, the first thing, big eyes, ‘Adam, what did you do?’ … she said, ‘The voicemail is completely full, and it’s full of bomb threats,'” Smith said in an interview with ABC News’ 20/20.
As a result of his bonehead move, he was fired from the company, losing his $200,000 a year salary, along with over $1 million in stock options! Soon after, they lost their home and were forced to move into an RV. A new CFO job in Portland seemed like a second chance for Smith, but two weeks later, he was fired from that job when his new boss discovered the video. And he’s been unemployable ever since.
It’s been almost three years now, and Smith still hasn’t been able to find a job. The family survives on food stamps, and it’s a chilling reminder that what you post on the Internet can come back to haunt you for years to come. Something to think about the next time you’re about to upload a compromising selfie..