With a statewide stay-at-home order still in place, many of the members of our Vancouver retirement community are ordering their essentials online to stay safe and healthy during these uncertain times. Some grocery stores have crowded aisles and some public spaces are filled with large groups not to honor facemask recommendations, making for a risky excursion to get more laundry detergent or pick up your takeout dinner. Ordering supplies and food online and having them delivered is undoubtedly your best bet, but there are some important steps to take to make sure you’re staying financially and physically safe. At Knights of Pythias Active Retirement Center, the health and safety of our residents is the number one concern, so here are our suggestions:

Shop only from trusted sources

In the wake of the pandemic, companies here in Vancouver and across the country have adjusted their business model to adapt to the new online ordering habits of residents stuck inside. One of the best ways to avoid any heartache during this time is to continue buying from the stores you already know and trust. If you’re used to shopping locally, take a moment to go online to see which local businesses are offering delivery or curbside pickup. Big businesses like Amazon and Fred Meyer have a long history as a trusted retailer with online ordering options and many prescriptions can be fulfilled through mail-order pharmacies. Be wary of any business or website you’ve never heard of. It never hurts to ask around or do more research, but the safest bet, if you’re unsure about a business, is to stick with companies that have earned your trust over the years.

If you see a deal that appears too good to be true, chances are high that your suspicions are correct. When you are shopping at a trusted retailer, double-check that the website address matches the company you’re intending to shop with. Before finalizing your transaction, take an extra moment to double-check that everything is correct, including the quantities of items you want to purchase.

Adopt good online safety habits

If you don’t already, make it a habit to check your online financial accounts regularly. When you do, make sure that you can account for every transaction listed and if not, call your bank or credit card company to report the suspected fraud. Never enter your social security number online unless you’re assured it’s a safe and legitimate site that needs that information. Take steps to protect against identity theft by monitoring your credit report through a paid monitoring service or by doing it on your own. There are several reputable services authorized by the Federal Trade Commission that offer free annual credit report services. Another way to stay safe is to use hard-to-crack passwords, ones that don’t use the word “password” nor use a family members names, as these make it easier for hackers to wreak havoc.

Keep the deliveries no-contact

By now, most delivery services have adopted and stuck with no-contact policies, leaving everything from groceries to packages on doorsteps and walking away without expecting so much as a greeting. Meals on Wheels, for example, have been using this delivery model since mid-March. While this has become commonplace, if you find that your pizza delivery driver knocks on the door and lingers, don’t be shy to tell him through the door that you don’t intend to answer for your safety. You could even consider installing a gently worded sign near your door that lets delivery workers know of your preference. Once you have taken your packages or groceries inside, take some time to wipe down the items with disinfectant and wash your hands after you discard the packaging. If you’ve ordered take-out food, transfer the food to your own container and wash your hand after disposing of the packaging. All of this takes a few extra minutes, but your health and peace of mind are worth the extra effort.