Many people today shop on-line and most people use a credit card to pay for their purchases. With a bit of common sense and security awareness, you can avoid any problems with your on-line shopping experience. When the site you are buying from provides a secure payment mechanism, it means that your personal data is protected as it passes from you to the on line merchant. This prevents a malicious “eavesdropper” from intercepting your data and using it to steal you identity or cuase you finanical loss.
How do you recognise Secure Payments?
Make sure you use a secure web site to enter credit card information. There are two signs to look for to indicate that the site is secure:
• Look for a padlock symbol in your browser window. Be wary of a padlock that appears on the web page itself. It’s easy for a fraudster to copy the image of a padlock. You need to look for one that is in the window frame of the browser itself. You can also click on the padlock to check that the seller is who they say they are and that their certificate is current and registered to the right address and company name.
• The website address should also begin with ‘https://’ , indicating that it is a secure, encrypted connection.
Remember though that the padlock is not an absolute guarantee of safety so you should stick to reputable websites and well-known brands.
If you get a warning about a problem with a “Certificate” or that the certificate cannot be trusted, do not submit any confidential information to such websites. They are most likely fake and intended to defraud.
How does Secure Payments work?
A secure web site uses encryption technology to ensure that data that is passed between you is kept confidential.
Many reputable on-line retailers do not actually handle the credit card transaction at all; they simply forward it on to a specialist payment service provider that handles the credit card transactions on their behalf. This ensures that the online shop you buy from does not actually store any of your credit card data thereby further reducing the risk of your details being stolen.
You should note the name of the payment service provider as this is the name that will likely appear on your credit card statement (and not the name of the on line retailer you purchased from).
What risk does it pose?
There are no absolute guarantees of safety on the Internet. With a little common sense and some basic security awareness, you can avoid any problems with your on-line shopping experience. Some of the risks of buying items on-line include…
• Mis-use or interception of your credit card details
• Getting charged for goods or services that you did not purchase
• Not receiving goods you have purchased
• Unacceptable delays
• Receiving goods other than what you paid for
• Poor after sales service
What to do?
• Only deal with reputable companies and trusted brand names. Ask friends for recommendations, and do some research before buying. If a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
• Only use secure web sites
• Check that the website has terms and conditions and ensure that you are happy with them before proceeding.
• Consider creating an account with well known payment handlers such as paypal if you use the Internet a lot for shopping.