With great convenience comes great responsibility. Online shopping has revolutionized commerce across the globe. Virtually anything is now available from virtually anywhere, all in the time it takes to type in your credit card information. But where there is money, there will be people who find a way to steal it. So, as with all commercial endeavors, secure Internet shopping has become a major issue.
Is it secure to shop online? Here is a brief online safety guide to help you shop with confidence.
1. Do You Trust the Site? If you do not yet know where to do your shopping, the first logical step is an Internet search. Google, Bing, and Yahoo do a fair job of filtering out harmful sites, but it is still a good idea to be careful, even with the top ranked search results. Some fraudsters will employ short term “black hat” SEO techniques to rocket to the top of results pages, with the hope that the short time they spend there will be enough time to sucker one or two people into their scam. If a site looks unsafe in any way and for any reason, it probably is, and you should move on.
2. Do You Trust the Site With Your Payment Info? So you find a safe site, you browse and browse, and you find the perfect item to buy. There are a few things to look for when deciding to check out. First and foremost, look at the web address of the payment page. If it begins with “http” it is not considered a secure page, and you should be a little wary of entering your credit card information. If the address begins with “https” then the extra “S” is there to tell you that the page is considered safe for secure Internet shopping. Similarly, some browsers will change the color of the tab text and include a small padlock, to let you know that you are on a secure page. Visit a site you know to be secure and look closely, so you will know what to look for on other sites.
3. Does the Site Ask for Your Information in Emails? You make your purchase and receive your product, and all is right with the world. But soon after, you receive an email asking for your information again. Depending on how the company asks you to enter the info, this can be a huge red flag. Any company that asks you to email them any sensitive information (credit card numbers, social security numbers, et al) is suspect. Reputable entities will never request that information like that be sent in emails or texts. Do not send it. Also, if the company includes a link to click to go to their site so you can enter the information there, you should instead click on a bookmark in your browser to get to the site through a route you know is secure, rather than perhaps being redirected to a dummy site.
So with all that, is online shopping safe? As long as you keep your wits about you, and refuse to be dazzled by seemingly unbelievable deals “as long as you act now!”, then secure Internet shopping is not only possible, but is in fact the default experience. Fraudsters are a small minority of people online, and the vast majority of consumers and merchants are doing everything the can to ensure safe online shopping for everyone involved.