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10 tips when shopping for Christmas presents online

We do a lot of shopping online in Sweden, and it’s no wonder. Thanks to price comparison services, it is easy to find the shops that are the cheapest, and there are rarely shops that sell over the counter. It costs a lot of money to have stores, while e-tailers can make do with inventory.

But before you start shopping online, there are some things you should consider. Here we have collected a number of tips for safe e-commerce.

If we have forgotten something, feel free to write a comment below the article.

1. Check out unknown stores
If you are going to buy from an e-store you have not previously bought from, take the time to check the company. This does not mean that you should request the latest financial statement or similar. But the least you can do is do a search on the company name on Google. If the company is shady, you’ll get hits that say so. If, on the contrary, it does not give any search hits at all, it is not a good sign either. This means that the e-shop is very new.

You can also search for the company in the Black List, which is compiled by the magazine Råd & Rön. These are companies that have ignored the General Complaints Board’s decision in matters of disputes with consumers. If the company is on the Black List, you should not do business with them.

Also do a search on the store’s web address in the Howard database. Here you can find out a lot of important things about a site.

2. Check the companies’ information pages
You should be able to easily find contact information on the site. There must be a postal address, e-mail and telephone number. Some smaller stores only offer contact via e-mail, so the absence of a phone number does not necessarily mean that the company is untrustworthy. It could just as well be that the shop is small and is managed in spare time. But if the phone number is missing, you should check it extra carefully.

Reputable stores also publish their organization number, and then you can search for information about the company on, for example, Alla Bolag.

3. Protect your bank card
In many cases, you pay with a credit or debit card when you shop online. It is generally safer than using the card in a taxi or in a restaurant, but on the internet you have the advantage of being able to protect your card better. There are several different methods to protect your card. Contact your bank and ask what they offer for something.

For example, you have an extra verification when buying with Visa and Mastercard, which means that you link a password to your card. When you shop with the card online, you will be prompted for a password and then you fill in your code. This is so that no one else can use your card anyway.

Some banks offer temporary card numbers, so you don’t have to use your regular card number. It is a good solution. A security problem with online shopping is in those cases e-stores save your card number for future purchases. Should the store not protect the card numbers with proper encryption, and if they suffer a data breach, your number could be exposed.

Never send your card number via e-mail or any other insecure channel. If you’re going to enter it, make sure you’re on a secure web page (https:// instead of http:// – as a rule, a padlock or something similar appears in the address bar when you’re on a secure page – when you’re on it’s encrypted the traffic between you and the server).

4. Secure e-commerce?
Svensk Distanshandel operates something called Trygg E-handel. Companies that follow certain rules and behave themselves get an emblem with the text “Safe E-commerce” to place on their site. It’s a safety mark that you can look for. On the other hand, there is nothing stopping fraudsters from posting the image of their fake e-shops…

5. Check price comparison services
Price comparison services don’t just help you find the lowest price on an item – they also often rate the different stores. Here you can quickly find out whether the store is safe to buy from, or whether many others have had problems with them.

6. Too good to be true?
An old but good rule of thumb when it comes to deals is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a company is selling a product ridiculously cheap, it’s worth investigating before pouncing.

7. Never pay in advance!
Consumers who have been ripped off have been ripped off because they paid in advance and then didn’t receive their items. Never pay in advance, unless it’s a company you really trust. If an e-shop has a great offer and says that they can only sell against advance payment, I would turn a blind eye… It smells very much like fraud.

8. Delivery time and shipping costs
Sometimes shipping costs can be a bit fuzzy. But find this out before you buy, so that you don’t order a product for 200 kroner and then pay 500 kroner in shipping and handling fees.

Shipping fee, by the way, is a make-believe cost that companies use to finance very cheap offers. Shipping charge means that the company wants to charge you just to receive your order… It’s an absurd cost, and I know people who refuse to pay these charges on principle.

9. Save all data
If you have the opportunity to print them, do so, but above all you should save all receipts and other things that you receive in connection with the purchase. Should something go wrong, you need to have proof that you really completed the purchase.

10. Don’t be too spontaneous!
The times people have been blown out of money due to fraud of various kinds, it is when they spontaneously bought something from an e-shop without researching it properly, and paid in advance. Shopping on the spur of the moment in regular stores is one thing, but doing so on the Internet can be dangerous. Anyone can set up an e-shop that looks very serious, without it costing anything.

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