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How to know if your web purchases are safe

SecureShoppingDoes anyone remember the late 1990s, when buying products online was akin to skydiving in terms of danger and disapproval from your parents?

Fast-forward to 2013 and it’s slightly weird if you haven’t considered shopping online. But are 21st century shoppers completely safe on the World Wide Web?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Just as increased familiarity and security improvements brought billions of shoppers online in the past two decades, criminals have also developed advanced methods for tricking consumers. So how can you keep your digital transactions secure in 2013?

Reputation is key

Thanks to the digital age, reputation has never been more important. Because users are keen to have their voices heard, they frequently feedback on websites they use. When buying from a website you’ve never used before, always search for the website’s name or address in Google.

If no results come up, be very wary – it’s very unusual for a website to have absolutely no reviews.

On the other hand, if you see a website with hundreds of positive comments, you know that it’s probably quite a safe place to spend your money. This shouldn’t be the end of your security checks, however.

Before you enter any sensitive information into the website – such as credit card information – it’s important to ensure that the site is “secure”. A secure website is one that has been encrypted on both ends, so no one can pry on your credit card details as they travel through the internet. If a site isn’t secure, you definitely shouldn’t share your credit card information with them.

How to check if a website is secure
When shopping online, you should have installed a good antivirus software on your computer, which includes malicious website protection, like Norman Security Suite.

Modern technology means it couldn’t be easier to check if a website is secure. Just look at the website’s address in the address bar – if it starts with “https://“, you’re browsing a secure website. This should also come with a padlock symbol somewhere in your browser window.

Even if a website is secure, however, you still can’t be sure it’s 100% trustworthy. Criminals could be trying to make the website appear safe and so are encrypting your data, but then have no intention of delivering the goods you’ve paid for.

To avoid this scenario, be wary of any deal that seems too good to be true. Just like in real-world shops, this suggests that the item is a low-quality imitation, stolen or that it might not get delivered at all.

Credit is king of the web

Finally, to ensure that you’re as protected as possible, use your credit card to make online purchases, and avoid using your debit card.

The reason for using a credit card is because they’re better supported by your credit card provider. If a website takes money from you without delivery the goods, or without receiving your consent, you’re within your rights (depending on the laws of your country) to claim the money back from your credit card provider, claiming fraud.

With a debit card, however, because it’s your money that’s being taken, you can’t claim it back from anyone. It’s a huge shame that us consumers aren’t fully protected on either payment method, but it’s reassuring to know that credit cards can give you an additional safety net.

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