Shopping online is one of the most convenient ways to purchase goods and services. You may even be able to buy things your local stores would be hard-pressed to ever stock for prices that seem unreal. The problem with online purchases is the fact that they seem to be more prone to security problems than ever before. Major breaches have occurred in the past years that may have left you wondering if any online retailer truly provides a safe online shopping experience.
The good news is that there are some signs that your next online purchase will be reasonably safe. While these signs don't promise you won't run into problems down the road, they do mean that you're significantly less likely to experience security breaches and the headaches that they entail.
In This Post:
No Third-Party Advertisements
Online retailers should make the majority of their income through retail purchases. They should have no need for alternative revenue streams, which includes pop-ups and other ads that some retailers use. The only acceptable form of advertisement is one that promotes the retailer itself. Emails that solicit sales and banner advertisements that do likewise are common with reputable retailers. If your retailer has to make ends meet with third-party advertisements, then they may be skipping out on security to save money. Find another retailer as fast as you can.
Reviews from Other Shoppers
Major online stores generally have places for customers to rate their service. They allow both favorable and unfavorable reviews, though they also tend to try to rectify the latter so that customers can see that the retailer does care. If your online store doesn't show you reviews left by other retailers, then reconsider using them. They may be trying to hide poor service or illegitimate products.
Peculiar Payment Methods
Trustworthy online retailers will always utilize reputable offshore credit card processing methods. They will accept most forms of major credit and debit cards. If your online retailer only accepts a few forms of payment, then they may not be secure. Some credit card companies will revoke the rights of a retailer to use certain credit cards when a high amount of fraudulent activity has been detected. You might want to check directly with their offshore merchant account just to be sure.
Another sign you're shopping at a valid retailer is that they will have a valid SSL certificate. You can look at the address bar of your browser to see if there is a padlock to determine this in most modern browsers. If the website lacks this, then your purchases aren't encrypted, which means this retailer may be compromised or may be simply trying to scam you.
Knowing the signs of a secure retailer can help you spot potential scams. While most credit card companies will do their best to protect you, a certain amount of responsibility remains with you as the consumer. Keep your wits about you when you shop at any online retailer. If you're ever in doubt, then consider shopping elsewhere.