Shopping Safely Online
Online Shopping is becoming more and more popular with online sales increasing dramatically each year. The reason for this is that online shopping can be more convenient, cheaper and provide clients with products that are just not available in retail stores in their area.
But is online shopping safe?
As the demand for online shopping increases so does the number of New Online Stores that pop up every day. However how can you be sure that the company you are purchasing from is reputable and not just another one of those Scam’s that we often hear about.
There are a few simple things that you can check to help make your shopping experience a pleasurable one and not a horror story.
Does the website have phone number?
Can you actually call and talk to someone about a product or your order. An email address provides anonymity as you do not know who you are talking to or where they are located. Phones however are a much better way of contacting someone to discuss any issues.
Is the business located in your Country?
Dealing with a business located in the same Country means that you are protected by your Countries’ consumer protection laws. It also makes contacting them, delivery of your order and returning/exchanging items much less complicated.
Is the website SSL secured?
If you are required to enter personal information such as Name, Address, Credit Card details etc. then you should make sure that the web page is SSL secured. If so then any information entered is encrypted before bring transmitted and hence and safe from hackers.
Your browser will display an icon of a padlock if the website page is SSL Secured. Different browsers will display the icon in different places so you will need to familiarize yourself with the browser that you are using (e.g. Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer etc..)
What payment methods does the website offer?
Certain payment methods provide protection for the buyer while others don’t. Credit Card Providers and Pay Pal for example have departments to help if you have a problem with regards to misuse of your card or service problems with the website you purchased form. Wire Transfers companies do not and are simply a method of transferring funds, so once the funds have been transferred there is little that can be done.
How long has the website been established?
Unrepeatable businesses don’t always last that long as news of poor service or bad quality goods spreads quickly. So if the business has been established for many years then they must be doing something right. A quick search online can indicate how long a business has been established.
Do a search for the website you are looking at in relation to Scams.
There are many websites on the Internet that keep a record of complaints and problems others have reported to them about less scrupulous websites. A quick search for the companies name + scam can reveal if they have a bad history with others.
Does it seem that the website’s prices are amazingly good?
The old saying that “if it seems too good to be true then it probably is” often holds true.
Get Some Good Advice
Regardless of which Country you live in, there are many Government run websites that have been setup to advise consumers of recent scams or fraudulent activity. These websites are constantly updated with current issues and offer a great deal of advice similar to that provided above so that you can make an informed decision about an online store that you may be considering purchasing from.
These sites usually have a blog attached were they publish articles from other experts in the online industry relating to all forms of Cyber Security, from online scams to recent Computer Viruses.
A great website for Australian Consumers is the “Stay Smart Online” website They provide a wealth of information on all aspect of online safetey.
Take some time to look into the website before you hand over personal details or any money. A quick search online will soon provide results as to the validity of the company. If you are not sure about the company or its products, contact them (preferably by phone) to talk to someone and have your questions answered.
And Don’t forget to check the invaluable sources of information provided by Government departments in your Country