Shopping for things online comes with both great benefits and great risks. Online purchase is convenient and gives the buyers the liberty of selecting their orders from a wide range of choices. This is true even for shopping for medicines online—customers are now shifting to purchasing medicines at online drugstores instead of local pharmacies due to the benefits shopping online brings.
Sample of an Online Pharmacy
However, since purchasing online is not all rainbows and sunshine, customers should be aware of the measures they should take before shopping online to assure their safety and their financial details security.
A couple of things you should keep in mind while shopping for online medicines…
Here are some of the things you can do to ensure your safety while sourcing your medicines online:
- If possible, use a prepaid card. If you’re planning to purchase medicines online, try using prepaid cash cards instead of your debit or credit cards. Cards linked to your main accounts may get hacked and there’s a possibility of evil web operators stealing your money, so it is better to use prepaid cards with just the exact amount (or a little bit more than the exact amount) whenever shopping online. If you can’t refrain from using your credit cards, use a separate online card (you can ask your banks about this) with a low credit limit.
- Use trustworthy websites. Even when it comes to online medicine purchases, you need to look for websites which are already established as trustworthy (for instance, shops found on our curated list of Top Vendors for the year). If you’re unfamiliar with the sites—don’t use them. You might want to our website legitimacy checklist for this (next section).
- Shop only at SSL-secured websites. Shops with the “https://” mean that they are encrypted. To look whether a store is secure, you can also check if there is a “lock” icon on the web address bar. This SSL security means that the shop is encrypting your payment forms so no hacker can access them.
- Use an online purchase email address and not your personal or work email. Using an online purchase email makes it easy to filter spam or ads that come from websites you purchase from. Also, using emails exclusively for online shopping prevents your work/personal email from getting hacked.
- Stick to using known networks. Beware of public hotspots—never shop for your medicines online using free Wi-Fi connections without using a VPN or a virtual private network. You can set-up free VPNs from safe service providers online.
- Install anti-virus and anti-malware programs. Purchasing online or not, you need to make sure your computer is with the proper antivirus or anti-malware programs to ensure that websites won’t be able to send you viruses or malware without your knowledge. There are free anti-virus and anti-malware programs on the web you can use for basic protection, but it won’t hurt if you spend a few bucks on for extra safety features.
- Beware of sites asking for unnecessary information. Doubt stores which are asking for extra details such as your birthday, social security number, or your bank account number.
- Make your passwords stronger. To prevent hackers from easily stealing your passwords, make sure they’re strong enough—use capital letters and alphanumeric characters to make your passwords stronger and harder to crack.
- Make sure to evaluate your bank statements from time to time. Check your accounts regularly so you can evaluate if you have been charged rightly by the shops you purchased from. Identifying the charges early also gives you enough time to report illicit charges from nefarious operators and also give you ample time to run after your money, just in case.
- Use mobile apps if available. When shopping for your medicines online, you can also use shops with mobile shopping apps for a more secure purchase, whenever available.
- Stay home while shopping online. As much as possible, do your online shopping while at home and using your home internet connection to lessen risks of encountering nefarious stores.
- Use your mobile network in public as much as possible. Choose your mobile data over Wi-Fi connections especially in public places.
How do I know if a website is good to shop from?
Apart from keeping the following things in mind, you should also do the following checks to be assured that a website you’re dealing with is legitimate:
- Check the store’s operating history – shops with long service histories are usually reliable, since most scam online drugstores only last more or less a year
- Read reviews – make sure that you read customer opinions for an online pharmacy first before using them to see if what they claim versus their actual service rendered
- Do a real-time check of the store’s contact details – it is a good idea to check if an online pharmacy’s contact details are correct and existent; the response rate of the shop will also give you a good idea on the responsiveness of the shop you’re eyeing
- Make sure the store sells genuine products – look for shops that source only from reliable manufacturers and those with products approved by the Food and Drug Administration
- Use domain checking websites – use free online website assessment services to determine if a shop is truly legitimate
Be Safe Online
All in all, you should do your research first before resolving to purchase from an online drugstore. Make sure that you don’t purchase out of emotion or just because you find a shop pretty. Ask around as much as you can, read reviews, and use domain analysis sites.
Purchasing medicines just got better through online stores—instead of queuing and settling for expensive medications, you have the choice to prefer cheaper medicines with the same quality. However, you should be cautious when purchasing medicines online and do rigorous checks before you resolve to source your medicines at a specific online pharmacy.