Safe Internet Shopping – Be Warned

Internet shopping is a great place to do business, and it entails so many advantages if done in a safe and secure way. Advantages like, you don’t have to go to the mall to shop for shoes, or go to your travel agent to purchase a cruise deal, or line-up to the movie theater to buy a movie ticket.

Anything you do normally on the shop or mall, you can now do it online. But, how safe is it? Are you comfortable entering your credit card number and your personal information on a web page? Are you sure that the online merchant you are buying the goods online are trustworthy? These questions and many other questions are reeling in everybody’s mind. These are the things to consider in order to have an online shopping experience that is safe, secure and to have peace of mind.

You must have a secure internet connection to the website you are about to buy something. Industry has developed a technology that scrambles sensitive information (like your credit card information, etc.) that you are about to send to the internet. This scrambled information can only be read by the merchant you are dealing with, and the credit card issuer. This process insures that whatever information you are sending cannot be read by anyone else, or changed along the way. Here are some indications that you have a secure internet connection with the online merchant you are dealing with:

  • If you are using Internet Explorer, look for an unbroken key or closed lock. This indicates that security is operative. If you are using Firefox, look for site identity button just before the website address. This feature on Firefox is only available on the newer versions. Hovering your mouse over to the padlock or site identity button will show whether the encryption is genuine or not. Most of the online retailers use Verisign as their authentication.
  • In the web address, make sure that you are connected to a secure website by checking that it has https:// before the website address. Do not enter your credit card information if the website URL does not have https:// before it.
  • Most of the online store website use the words “Secure Socket Layer” (SSL), or a pop-up box that warns you, that you are about to enter a secure area.

Look for signs that the business is legitimate. Buy from reputable stores and sellers. Before registering, sign-in or give any personal information, especially credit card information, make sure that you have verified the legitimacy of the company you are about to deal with. Here are some tips on how to check the legitimacy and how reputable the company is:

  • Find out what others are saying about the company. There are websites that posts customer evaluation about a company. From these evaluations, you can check if the company is reputable or legitimate. Websites like epinions.com and bizrate.com are some of the website that post customer evaluation.
  • Look for a Third Party seal of approval. Reputable and Legitimate companies can put these Third Party Seal of Approval on their websites if they abide by a rigorous set of standards that the industry implements. Two seals to look for are: Better Business Bureau Seal (BBB) – for the legality of the business and eTrust Seal – for trustworthiness of the website.

Know the price and pay by credit card. Make sure that you know exactly what you are paying for, including shipping and handling, sales taxes, etc. Paying by credit card gives you an extra protection by being able to “charge back” if you feel that you are a victim fraud. You can also return the product within the specified time if you are not happy with it.

Make sure that your computer is in top shape. Top shape means:

  • You must have antivirus software installed, with a malware and spyware on it. Or if not included on the anti-virus software, you should buy it separately.
  • The Operating System should be up to date – whatever your Operating System is. If your OS is Windows, you should configure the automatic update on.
  • Make sure that your firewall is enabled. Firewall gives you an extra layer of protection from intruders coming from outside to hack into your computer.