How To Shop Safe Online

Ensure that you know the identity, location and contact details of the online retailer. There are online companies whose brand name is recognizable, such as Amazon.com. Additionally, many real life stores now include an online retailing arm as part of their retail services and you already know their reputations. It is important, however, to establish the identity of lesser-known online companies who do not have instant recognition or external store status. In this case, it is important to look for the name, company registration details for your country, contact details that include an e-mail, postal address and telephone number and a clear indication of where the company’s headquarters is based.

Ensure that you know the identity, location and contact details of the online retailer. There are online companies whose brand name is recognizable, such as Amazon.com. Additionally, many real life stores now include an online retailing arm as part of their retail services and you already know their reputations. It is important, however, to establish the identity of lesser-known online companies who do not have instant recognition or external store status. In this case, it is important to look for the name, company registration details for your country, contact details that include an e-mail, postal address and telephone number and a clear indication of where the company’s headquarters is based.

Read the site’s privacy policy. Reputable companies will be open about how they collect data from you and what they do with it. Many now also belong to web-seal approval or trust mark programs that set out guidelines on the treatment of your information. Look for a privacy policy and learn about whether the company uses your information beyond the purchase transaction, for example, to email you with updates or deals etc. or if it passes on information to third party merchants. This is how you can end up getting spam mail if you are not careful. At the end of the day, you must make your own decision about how much information you are prepared to give.

Only use secure websites if you are transferring funds via the site. Once you’re happy with the company you are purchasing from, ensure that your credit card details are going to be processed using a secure connection. The most common form of secure encryption is known as Secure Sockets Layer or SSL for short. SSL encrypts data and breaks it up into small pieces so that the information cannot be read by anyone wanting to intercept it. To check that your place of purchase is using SSL or secure technology there are a few things to look out for in your Internet browser:

Depending on your browser settings you may receive a message stating that you are entering a secure area. The secure area normally begins on the first page where you enter personal details.
Most often the address bar in your browser will change from starting with http to https. The “s” indicates the site is secure but note that often you won’t see the “s” until you are on the order page itself.

Take care when entering information. Be sure to enter the correct details when typing in your order. An incorrect address, amount of items or wrong item code can cause many difficulties. Always review the information before pressing send.

Use a credit card with online fraud protection. Just in case all else fails it pays to know the policy for online fraud protection offered by your credit card company. Many credit card companies offer protection against purchases made without your consent and have special clauses to include online purchases.

Install a Phishing Filter. There are various phishing filters, like SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer, which will help protect you from phishing sites by warning you when it detects a distrustful website.

Record purchase details. After purchasing your item, always record the details of the time, date, receipt number, and order confirmation. If you cannot print one off, take a screenshot as a form of proof of purchase.

Be aware of email scams designed to part you from your credit card information. Email frauds that are designed to gather personal information such as passwords and credit card details are known as phishing emails. The idea is that thousands or hundreds of thousands are sent out in the hope of reeling in unsuspecting victims and getting them to part with confidential information. The emails appear to be from well-known companies and can look quite convincing. However, legitimate companies, including all banks, will never send you an email with a link requesting your login, password, or credit card details. If in doubt, type the web address of the company it relates to directly into the browser rather than following the email link.

Tips:

  • Credit cards tend to offer more protection than debit cards as they don’t directly remove funds from your own bank account. If a transaction goes under investigation or proves to be fraudulent, you may never end out of pocket with a credit card providing your card issuer provides protection.
  • Take advantage of one-time-use *virtual credit cards offered by many card issuers.
  • An increasing number of online stores now request a CVV or card verification number when making a purchase. The CVV code is the small code shown on the signature bar on the back of your card. Normally the last 3 digits of the code are required. This is to prevent someone who has managed to get your name; card number and expiration date from being able to make purchases using your card.
  • Another security feature that credit card companies are using is to create another level of security by adding an additional password. An example of this is Verified by Visa or Mastercard Secure Code. This is an optional feature so only offers support with selected websites or payment processing systems. If you activate the code and shop on sites that carry the logo, the check out process will require the password you set up to authorize your purchase.
  • Never send your credit card details through non-secure online methods such as via email. Such methods will offer little protection.
  • If you are buying from another country, check such matters as the currency that you are paying in, exchange rates and the possibility of sales duties or taxes being levied on your purchase when it reaches you.Also be sure that what you purchase from another country is legal in your country.
  • With first-time purchases, if you are unfamiliar with the site, you may want to test it with an inexpensive purchase to begin with.

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