In our day and age, scammers and hackers abound. Day after day we hear of news about banks and the government getting hacked, so it is really highly likely that you can get hacked while shopping online. While you’re thinking to skip using the internet altogether, you may not be able to make it since most of the commerce existing now is internet-based and that we can expect more businesses to shift online in the coming years due to the rapid digitalization of the world.
Local drugstores are now migrating their service online like this Walgreens shop
Online pharmacies are now slowly replacing local pharmacies when it comes to drug purchases and consumers continue to purchase their medicines from them despite the risk.
If you want to purchase your medicines online, you should be able to know the basics of staying safe whenever going online. This does not only mean choosing the correct stores to shop from—there are other checks you need to do to stay safe while online shopping.
I want to shop safely online. What do I need to do?
There are actually a few things you should do in order to stay safe while shopping online. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before proceeding with your first online purchase:
- Make sure the store is HTTPS secure
Whenever shopping online, you should look for the “padlock” icon in the URL or the https://. When a website is HTTPS secure, you are assured of your details’ safety especially during payment or sharing sensitive financial or personal information for the verification of your orders. Sites that are HTTPS secure encrypts the data passed from consumer to vendor so hackers won’t be able to steal the information.
- If a store looks fishy, don’t go for it
Trust your instincts when shopping online—if something is off about a website or if a store doesn’t feel right or looks shady, don’t purchase from the store. If possible, try only familiar websites or those shops that you’ve established as “safe” after considerable research. Even if a store is presenting you an almost irresistible deal, make sure that you do not make impulsive decisions about purchasing at a store you know nothing about.
- Change passwords regularly
Make sure to change your passwords constantly or at least make them stronger using capital letters and alphanumeric characters. Although constantly having to change your passwords may be a pain, this is something you can benefit from in the long run, safety-wise.
- Use a separate card for your online purchases
It is better to use an online credit card for your purchases instead of using your main accounts. Banks are able to issue a separate online credit card you can use so that you can monitor your purchases easily and add to your online protection.
An example of an online or e-credit card
- Shop online at home as much as possible
Avoid using public Wi-Fi connections since they make you more prone to attacks. Using public internet connections don’t encrypt your data, making it easier for hackers to steal your information using the right tools. This doesn’t only apply to desktops—beware of using public Wi-Fi when shopping using your phones. If possible, use your own mobile data connection.
- Be mindful of your statements
When online shopping for your meds (or anything else) online, make sure to check your bank statements regularly to see if the charges are correct. Credit card charges can be easy to dispute, but you will have no way of regaining your money back when you shopped for your medicines online using your debit card (which brings us back to you using a separate online credit account online).
- Use a separate online email for shopping
Don’t use your personal or work email whenever shopping online so you can sift through the scam and non-scam emails sent to you by illicit shops. Also, be mindful of the links you receive through email.
- Be vigilant when it comes to sharing your information
Legitimate companies like your banks and others would never ask for your sensitive information through email. Also, stores typically do not ask your bank account numbers, birthday, or even your social security number, so doubt the shops that ask you these things.
How can I know if the store I am planning to shop from is legitimate?
After doing those sensible checks before shopping for your medicines online, you should be keen on identifying the characteristics that distinguish the good stores from the bad. Here are some of the things you may need to look for in a legitimate online store:
- Years of service
Good online drugstores usually have a long history of selling prescriptions to consumers, while scam stores usually don’t make it through a year.
- Excellent third-party reviews
You can’t keep consumers from appreciating shops that gave great service—buyers will always praise stores that performed excellently and will complain about shops that scammed them. You only need to find the reviews and the mentions for the stores so you know what kind of shop you’re dealing with before proceeding with your first purchase. Look for stores with endorsements from consumers, preferably those from third-party review sites.
- Responsive customer support team
A sign of a reliable store is a responsive support team. Test an online pharmacy’s support numbers first before making your purchase and see if the numbers are real. Good shops entertain their consumers the best way they can, so if a store doesn’t respond to your emails or your calls, then it’s likely hard to transact with this shop in the future.
Online pharmacies will continue to thrive due to the shift of the buyers’ interest to online shopping. Since web shopping is here to stay, it is wise for consumers to “gear up” and stay safe while purchasing their meds online. Be cunning and vigilant when it comes to web transactions and remember that it is better to overdo your safety than to end up getting scammed.