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How to Shop Online Securely

Since the boom of the internet and e-commerce in the late 1990s, shopping online has become very popular and, undeniably, quite convenient. Foot-ware, cosmetics, men’s and women’s fashion items and accessories – you no longer need to take long and tiresome shopping tours to buy all these things, as they are now only a mouse-click away. However, shopping online securely is a matter of concern, and the most serious risks involve identity theft or fraudulent misuse of your payment details by unauthorized third parties.

Keep in mind that few online providers meet the industry standards with regards to storing customers’ credit card details. Even sending a link to reset a password is not secure unless the page requests that the user responds to a secret question. A study in the United Kingdom has revealed that only 14 percent of the online providers took this approach. Some banking institutions have adopted a two-factor authorization process which combines a pin and a smart card. However, few e-commerce websites have taken steps to provide internet shopping security: issuing hardware tokens to all customers can put many of them out of business.

While misuse is always a concern, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great convenience of secure shopping online without exposing your personal details and payment instruments to risks.

There are several things to keep your eyes open for when typing in the number of your credit card. To make sure you shop online securely, pay attention to the yellow lock at the bottom of your browser. If the lock looks normal, it means that it is now safe to proceed with your purchase; if it is broken, you should immediately cancel the process. In case you feel nervous about typing in your credit or check card number when you shop online (even when you visit the sites of the biggest and most trusted online dealers), register your credit card with some of the reputed online portfolio providers like PayPal and MoneyBookers. It is wise to use them as electronic portfolios as they allow holders to shop online securely and with great confidence.

When visiting an online store, make sure that the dealer has clearly listed its contact details, as well as its purchase cancellation and refund policy. E-commerce sites such as E-Bay, for example, take great care of the consumer rights of subscribers. They usually do everything within their abilities to resolve disputes that may arise between the seller and the buyer.

You should also have a look at the privacy statement of the provider to see how your personal details will be used. Reliable e-commerce websites make such information easily accessible. Keep record of all transactions. Finally, to shop online securely, it is best to avoid all small and little-known dealers with unclear or dubious contact details. If you have questions about an online merchant, you can also get in touch with the Better Business Bureau and request information.

Upon processing your order, an online store will usually send you a confirmation of your purchase. The email will contain the number of your order and the amount you have paid. It is strongly advisable to print out this email and compare the value of the purchase with the one appearing in your credit card monthly statement. If the two figures match, there is nothing to worry about. However, if that in your email is significantly smaller than the one on your statement, you should immediately contact the seller and, of course, your credit card company or your bank and ask for their assistance.