How many of you enjoy the convenience of shopping online? Banking online? Paying your credit cards online? With so many transactions taking place on the Internet, you probably want to feel safe in knowing exactly where your money is going.
Know what you should look for! I can’t stress this enough. One of the most important things you can do secure your online checkout process, is getting yourself up speed on what kinds of things you need to look out for and what they mean.
Check the Level of Security of a Website
- The URL begins with “https”
Meaning: Then the site has been registered and received a certificate of credibility.
- Padlock symbol in the browser box
Meaning: By clicking on the symbol, you should be able to check if the safety certificate of the website is still current. You will also be able to see what web address the certificate was actually issued for.
This symbol is a safety measure that helps to weed out the website that might otherwise copy and paste a symbol.
Too good to be true
If you come across a product with a price that is significantly lower that what other sites are selling the same item for, be suspicious. It’s usually a good idea to check several websites and make sure the item descriptions are all similar.
Online merchants usually offer their customers several different payment methods. Usually, customers can pay using major credit cards or online merchant account, such as PayPal. One of the benefits of using a PayPal account for example, is that you’re not required to provide credit card info. PayPal is only one of many online merchant accounts, but it’s one of the most popular because it allows you to set up a free account for basic online transactions.
Avoid offering personal information
Beware of popup boxes or any kind of request for personal information. Phishers and scam artists often use this tactic to deceive people. This is also true for online forms and email links requesting any kind of login information (especially when you need to enter your password), your credit card information, your social security number, etc.
You can get more information about Phishing in one of my previous posts (5 Tips to Screen Out Phishing Emails), or you can visit the following websites:
- The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) focused on eliminating the identity theft and fraud
- Provides a forum to discuss phishing issues
- Define the scope of the phishing problem
- Share information and best practices for eliminating the problem
- Run by Federal Government and Tech Industry
- Practical tips to prevent Internet fraud
- Securing your computer
- Protecting your personal info
- Educating consumers to prevent them from Internet Fraud Schemes
- Developed and maintained by a joint federal law enforcement and industry task force
- Topics, games and videos
Seal of Approval programs
Many online merchants are members of seal-of-approval programs. These programs offer voluntary guidelines related to privacy practices. Some examples of these programs include:www.bbbonline.org
- The Better Business Bureau certifies online merchants that have a privacy seal of approval
- Research merchants
- Report e-commerce fraud
- Privacy solutions for businesses
- Helping companies remain accountable to privacy obligations
- Provide consumers with Choices
- The VeriSign check mark is one of the most recognized trust marks on the Internet found on more than 100,00 websites worldwide, with up to 650 million views a day
- Helps protect account and identity
- Web add-on that shows you which websites you can trust for safe surfing, shopping and searching on the web
There are several situations in which seal-of-approval programs will not guarantee 100% protection including:
- New ownership by a company with weaker privacy policies
- Company files for bankruptcy
- Company sells database with sensitive customer info
Be sure to read our previous blog post about SSL Certificates for additional information.
Viruses & Malware
Malware, or “malicious software,” includes viruses and spyware, which are programs that are copied or installed on your computer, without your consent, to monitor or control your computer activity. In addition to good antivirus software, there are several resources available to help safeguard your computer when you’re shopping online, or any other activities that might increase your vulnerability.
- Free browser plug-in that provides safety advice about website
- Alerts you to potentially risky sites
- mall site rating icons, browser button and optional search box
For additional information about shopping online, be sure to visit the websites below:
- Great tips from the American Bar Association about online shopping
- Guides from the Federal Trade Commision for online shopping and E-payments