Monthly Archives: September 2016

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

online-shoppingNot just the trend of buying goods and availing services online, but even the frauds associated with it are on rise. Technological advancement has given a major boost to e-commerce and other similar concepts, which revolve around computers and, more importantly, the Internet. The concept of online shopping is no more alien to anybody in the world.

Millions of people log onto shopping websites in order to make shopping a convenient affair. What they fail to understand though, is the fact that they are compromising on their security by not abiding by the rules that they need to follow. With so many cases of online frauds coming to light every other day, it is surprising to see people go on an online shopping spree without paying heed to their security.

Online Shopping Safety Tips

Online shopping fraud is a broad concept, which includes a range of activities, right from hidden charges and phishing to credit card scams and identity theft. Given below are some simple precautions that you can take to keep yourself safe.

Carry out your transactions from a secured PC: You need to make sure that the PC you are using for shopping online and related transactions is up-to-date with security measures, like anti-virus software and firewall. Being one of the most important advice as far as safe online shopping is concerned, this will help you keep those malicious programs out of your transactions.

Be well-versed with the website you use: You need to make sure that the website from which you are buying goods or availing services is authentic. Never go to random sites that feature in search engine results, or ones that you have never heard of before. Always go for popular websites, as the chances of you getting caught in any sort of web of deceit on such websites are negligent.

Never give away your personal information: You will have to provide some information while shopping online, however, you need to make sure that this is just the general information, like your name or contact number. Never give out confidential information, like your social security number, on online shopping websites. More importantly, never fill in any sort of information in pop-up windows, even if you trust the website. Maintaining privacy while shopping online is a must, as giving away confidential information can make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Go through the privacy policy of the company: A trusted website is bound to have its privacy policy covering all the points whereby the website would be legally bound to keep your personal details confidential and giving away the same to the third party would mean breach of contract with possible legal implications. If any website doesn’t have their privacy policy in place, it is better off to stay away from it.

Paying by credit card is wiser: Always resort to credit card for payment options. Though many of us prefer to use debit cards for shopping online, they don’t have all the security features that credit cards do. More importantly, if your debit card number gets stolen, it will give hackers total access to your account and result in even more difficult situations for you.

Before you order the product: You need to make sure that the transactions are secured and the shipping policy of the company is in the place. Cross checking the actual price of the product and the shipping charges with other companies can help you get the best deal. Make sure that there are no hidden costs in the shipping charges. You will have to take into consideration the actual price of the item as well as shipping charges, handling fees, and sales tax.

After you order the product: Never reply to confirmation mails which ask for your personal details. Make sure that you take the print outs of all the online transaction records, which you can eventually use as proof. Other than all your transactions with the company, it is wise to save the product description as well. Lastly, you will have to monitor the time required for shipping. It is very important to get well-versed with terms and conditions before you buy any product online.

If, by chance, you do end up having a bad experience, you can report the company to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the consumer protection agency in your area of jurisdiction. Considering that there are a number of phishing websites out there in the guise of shopping websites, it will take efforts from all of us to come together and make online shopping safe and secure.

Tips for Shopping at a Mall

A bustling metropolis is full of luxury shopping malls and in the US, it has become the top-notch destination for the weekly and monthly shopping of urban families. The mall culture, as economists call it, has opened avenues for tremendous shopping and business activities. Shopping in malls was earlier considered expensive but with a large number of malls sprawling in the recent years, competitive pricing and discounts have made it affordable for most of us. Here we will inform you about some tips for shopping at a mall. Have a look.

How to Shop at a Mall

If you are a newbie in the world of shopping in malls, you must know the fundamentals of visiting a mall for shopping. Shopping is one of the favorite pass-times of many people. Before you step into expensive places like shopping malls, ensure you are aware of the critical difference between needs and wants. If you have enough money to splurge, then you can enjoy shopping but if you have a tight budget, be careful with your spending while entering into one, as it can be expensive for your pocket.

Avoid Weekends: Shopping on the weekends can turn out to be very exhausting due to a huge crowd and congested environment. Prefer week days to shop. Leave from your office early some day and then go for shopping.

Plan the Shopping: Shopping malls are a storehouse of all brands and you will literally never get bored of shopping and splurging extra, if you are unaware of what you exactly want. Hence, to manage your budget effectively, shop with a proper plan in hand.

Social Media Offers: Facebook fan pages will often inform you about some amazing discounts on branded apparels. So if you have a facebook account, do check frequently about the latest shopping offers from the greatest brands.

Don’t Just See Labels: Just because it is Levi’s or Denim, doesn’t mean it will fit you. Unless you are not satisfied by trying the accessories and clothes, don’t buy them just based on a hunch or merely because you like it.

Wait for Festivals: If you don’t have urgency for shopping and you can wait for a few days, always do that. Malls across the country give special discounts during festive seasons. Festival sales are always huge crowd pullers in the shopping malls.

If You Want, Rest: Bookstores in shopping malls are a great place to give some moments of relaxation to your tired feet especially if you are shopping alone. Read something and relax the feet after hours of shopping in the mall.

Arrive Earlier: If you arrive earliest in the mall, you will get a better parking lot that is a big advantage in festive seasons when people have to walk hundreds of meters to just park their car!

Plan Your Attire Well: If you are planning to try several clothes, it is logical to wear shorts, T-shirts and slippers, so that you can easily change every time you are in the trial room.

Be Aware of CP: Don’t just focus on prices in a single mall. Be aware of the competitive pricing of brands. If you can get the same clothing or brand at a cheaper price in a nearby store, it is worth saving some money.

Use Gift Coupons Wisely: If you are in possession of some gift hampers or coupons, store them at separate places in the purse so that when the need comes, you can easily take them out. Don’t mix them with other papers in your purse. Also, use the gift coupons smartly.

Mall Shopping Safety Tips

Shopping malls attract significantly high number of people of all ages. This gives miscreants and notorious pickpockets sufficient opportunity to take advantage of unaware shoppers. People who frequently indulge in shopping at malls must keep in mind the following safety tips.
Never leave your belongings and purchased items unattended even for a couple of minutes.
Try to limit the number of shopping bags you carry in malls. Prefer one large bag, or at the most two, so that you can keep a track of everything.
Men must make it a habit to keep their wallets in the front pocket.
Women, if they carry purses, must make sure that they hold it close to their body. If there are two people, the bag must be held in between the two people. This must be done during peak sale seasons when there is a huge rush in the malls.
Never leave a child unattended outside malls, in a store or toy house. Always take them with you and keep a watch on them. Malls are the places where kidnappers are on the lookout to abduct kids.
Avoid using washrooms that are situated very deep inside the mall or at the end corner of it.
Never allow a child to go to the washroom without your assistance.
If you’re shopping at night, request mall security officers to escort you to the parking area. This is most important, if you are alone.
Avoid staying inside the large halls and top floors of a mall, especially, if it is the closing time.
Assist kids aged below 6 years while using the escalators.
When taking your kid to the mall, if possible, take another adult with you.
Don’t look for items near warehouses in the malls or places where only the staff is allowed to enter.
Be careful when standing in line, as children drift away from the line, while you are reading about some product or looking elsewhere.
Don’t overburden a trolley by making more than a kid sit on it. If needed, use more than one trolley.
Avoid using lifts or stairs, at night in the mall, if you suspect someone with restless or suspicious behavior.
Push the cart on your own and don’t let it be pushed by the child. Children are unable to see shoppers coming in the front and they may bump into them. Let them smoothly move with the traffic.
Don’t carry strollers on escalators. Use elevators for that purpose.
Inform your child that he or she should be careful with using the escalators and must stand comfortably instead of leaning on the sides or trying to do something different.
In case a person or child meets with an accident while using the escalator, don’t immediately rush back or jump. Instead press the alarm button provided at many places on handrails in elevators. If you start running back on the escalators, even you may fall.
It is good to read safety pamphlets distributed by the shopping malls, every time you visit a mall.
If shopping with toddlers, it is vital to bring good strollers and you must be accompanied by another adult. Right timing and weather conditions are also important determiners when taking toddlers out.
Don’t park in areas very far from the vicinity of the mall. It is ideal to use the parking area.
Be careful while withdrawing money from close by ATMs near malls. Pickpockets are mostly in hideouts, watching your every move. They target careless and casual shoppers. Make sure you are alert.

Shopping in malls is going to be here and rule the heart of people. While malls have become the perfect places for families to indulge in some shopping and luxuries of life, questions about safety issues in crowded places are certainly a matter of concern. By using the aforementioned shopping tips, you are surely going to get the best deals! Happy shopping!

Pros and Cons of Online Shopping

With increased use of Internet, more and more people are drawn towards online shopping. This means of buying products has gained immense popularity in today’s times. Earlier, Internet was only accessible to people of developed countries, but recent revolution has made it accessible to almost all parts of the world. With increased awareness, people now flock towards Internet for shopping. The concept of shopping goods through online services has been highly recognized and accepted, as it provides several benefits to the customer. However, every good aspect has a bad side to it and this is applicable to online shopping as well. The advantages and disadvantages of this kind of convenience shopping are listed below.

Advantages
The best part of online shopping is that you can shop from home. There is no need to go to the mall to purchase the item you need. You just need to order and it will be available right at your doorstep.
As you shop from the comfort of your home, you save on gas and time that would otherwise have been spent to reach to the nearest store and look for the desired product.
It is convenient and easy! You do not need any degree to learn online shopping. All you have got to do is, visit the website, search for your product and buy it. Your product is just a click away!
Shopping online gives you the privilege to shop whenever you want. The stores are never closed and you can do your shopping 24×7.
It provides variety to the buyer. You don’t need to jump from shop to shop to look for varieties of a product available in the market. The options available online are many and this is one of the best features of online shopping.
Shopping from malls and stores makes it difficult to compare between features and prices of products. Shopping through websites provides simplified comparison of products and helps in deciding which one should be purchased.
Many websites device special discount schemes from time to time to attract customers. You can always buy products under such schemes and save a lot of money.
It keeps annoying salesperson at bay. Aggressive salesmen often pressurize you to buy their products. This harassment can be simply escaped by shopping using the Internet.

Disadvantages
The first disadvantage is that there is a time lag between you making the payment and the delivery of the product.
You cannot try out the product before buying it. Many people like to try things out before making the payment. This feature remains missing when you buy a product online.
High shipping costs often add up to the total cost of the product. Companies usually set very high shipping costs, which add to the total expenditure. Also, if the product is shipped from another country, you are liable to pay extra taxes for it.
The payment mode may not be secure. With increased security issues, making online payment through debit or credit cards might be an insecure mode of transaction. It is therefore important to check whether the payment gateway is secured or not.
Possibility of product damage while shipping cannot be nullified. If the product received is damaged, it may again take several days for replacement or the company may not provide any replacement at all.
The ease of shopping can be extremely dangerous for shopaholics, as they may get provoked to buy many items at a time leading to unwanted expenditure.
The incidence of billing errors is high and if you encounter one, you will again have to follow a long procedure and wait for several days before the error gets resolved.
You need to have a debit or credit card to make a purchase. Very few websites give you the option of paying cash or check on delivery.
If you are trying this shopping method for the first time, I will advise you to get some tips for safe online shopping from your friends and relatives who have already tried it out, so that you do not make any mistakes. Also, weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself whether you would like to go for it or not.

Is it Safe to Buy a Diamond Ring Online?

Whether it’s a gift to yourself, a friend, relative, or spouse, or the much coveted engagement ring, a diamond ring is a timeless piece of jewelry. Receiving one can send you over the moon. Buying one, however, is another story altogether. Not only because of the variety available, but also because of the amount of time and judgment that goes into buying one. Add the option of buying it online at the click of a button, and you’ve got yourself in a real dilemma.

Why Buying a Diamond Ring Online Makes Sense

There have to be some very logical arguments in favor of buying diamonds online. It is, after all, an investment that will make your wallet considerably lighter. So, what are its advantages over going to your trusted and probably really experienced local jeweler?
Lower Cost: One of the most important advantages is that web-purchased diamond rings are likely to be less expensive than their store-bought counterparts. This is because they have comparatively lower operational costs.
More Discounts: Buying anything online almost always enables you to avail great discounts by way of coupons, vendor discounts, festive offers, free shipping, etc. Diamond rings are no exception.
More Variety: Imagine having the best of all worlds at one place. This is what online shopping makes a reality. Because there are inventories of multiple vendors listed on a single website, you have so many styles and designs to choose from. Plus, you can easily customize your search, and you’ll get options for only what you’re looking for and what’s within your budget.

What Doubts You May Have

While it is very (very) easy to shop for diamonds online, there will always be some doubts and paranoia that surround the purchase. What if …
… I’m sold a fake ring?
… I’m not satisfied with what I buy?
… I get a ring that is nothing like what I ordered? Will I get my money back?
Buying Diamond Rings Online Is Safe If …

♦♦ You study diamonds in detail
It is imperative that you get as much knowledge as you can about diamonds and diamond jewelry. The 4Cs of any diamond: cut, clarity, carat, and color, the different shapes available, the kind of settings that are most favorable for your choice of ring; thoroughly study all of this before you log on to a shopping website. Learning about diamonds and its intricacies will help you analyze your options better and will enable you to make an informed decision.

♦♦ You research the vendor thoroughly
Once you’re online, it’s very easy to get lost in the world of glitzy, glamorous jewelry. But don’t let the shimmer of it all fool you. Once you see something you like and it fits all your personal criteria, begin researching the vendor.
Does he give exact technical figures of the piece or does he offer just approximations? If it is the latter, it would be ill-advised to purchase from him.
Study his own website. Does it seem genuine? Does it have customer testimonials?
If the merchant does not have his own website, look to other sources to verify his credentials.
Check for customer reviews on the website that you’re using to shop.
Check if he is associated with bodies, like Jewelers Board of Trade, Internet Diamond Exchange, etc. These are reliable organizations in the diamond business, and any genuine diamond vendor will be associated with them.
Check for references made to the merchant on other websites. Are they positive?
When you study all this carefully, you’ll get an idea of how credible a vendor he is.

♦♦ The diamond has the requisite grading reports
Once you’re convinced of the vendor’s credibility, it’s time to study the piece you wish to purchase. Diamonds that you buy should have a grading report that has been submitted by any of the following laboratories.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
American Gem Society (AGS)
European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)
There are other laboratories that provide grading reports. However, the most trusted are GIA and AGS. If the ring you wish to buy does not have a grading report, it is advisable not to buy it.

♦♦ The vendor offers a return and/or refund policy
What happens if suppose you open the ring, and you see that it isn’t anything like what you saw online? What if it’s smaller? What if you ordered white gold, but the piece that arrives is yellow gold? What if, for some reason, you wish to return the ring? Does the vendor offer a return and exchange in case of perhaps a wrong size? Is he willing to give you a full refund in case you are not satisfied with what you receive? If yes, then he can be trusted. If no, then you need to make a judgment call about his credibility and also figure what you’ll do in case you’re sold a substandard or possibly fake ring.

♦♦ The vendor covers insurance
A genuine diamond vendor will always insure his diamonds. In case of online shopping, this becomes even more important to both parties involved because of the logistics involved. From the time you purchase the ring until it is handed over to you, the vendor is responsible for the piece, and it is in his and your best interests to ensure that nothing goes wrong. And if it does, there should be appropriate indemnity measures in place so that no/minimal loss is suffered by either of you. If the vendor does not insure the piece, ask yourself this: if the vendor does not even wish to insure it, is it really as valuable as he says it is?

In addition to these, you may also want to ensure that the ring you buy has conflict-free diamonds. You can ask the vendor for a written guarantee from the company that has purchased the diamonds. After all these criteria have been met and your precious ring arrives at your doorstep, there is yet another step you need to take to verify the gem’s authenticity. Get it appraised by your local jeweler or a renowned appraising house. Once they give it a stamp of approval, you can rest assured that you have made a genuine purchase and finally put it on.