Online Shopping Protection

Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

Consumers are becoming more comfortable shopping online as technology has advanced in the level of security available. Nevertheless, shopping online is not without risks. You, as a consumer, need to know how to reduce the risk of credit card fraud, identity theft and reselling of your information to third parties.

Visa has developed its Verified By Visa program to offer you enhanced security via password protection. Each time you use your Visa online, you will be prompted to input a special password (not your three-digit security code), which ensures that you are indeed the cardholder. Other security measures offered by credit card companies include single-use credit card numbers.

It is also in the vendor’s best interest to protect your privacy, as the vendor can be held responsible for credit card fraud when it has not fulfilled its obligations to protect the consumer.

At the end of the day, it is up to the individual to choose wisely to whom personal information should be divulged. The following are some rules of thumb for shopping on the Internet:
  1. If in doubt, don’t check out. Shop with known e-stores (household names or ones recommended by others) or sellers with positive feedback from sites like eBay and Amazon.
  2. Sometimes the item you want (an e-book for example, or an online membership) is only available from one place. Check for a physical address and verify it.
  3. Check for refund and return policies, just in case you have a problem with shipping or billing.
  4. When you are taken through a website’s checkout process, make sure the URL includes an “s” after the “http” (Example: This means you are in a secure area. You should also look for a padlock icon in the bottom right corner of the page in which you are submitting your information to indicate a site’s security.
Aside from the risk of your credit information being hacked, there is also a concern as to what a vendor will do with this information. Consumers expect that their personal information will not be sold to third parties without their knowledge and permission. Some online retailers provide the opportunity to opt in to direct marketing programs with the retailer’s partners somewhere in the checkout process, usually at the end. Other sites are more sneaky and opt you in by default, in which case you must uncheck the permission box or unwittingly be included in the direct marketing program.

Remember, you can always refer to a website’s privacy policy if you are wary about how your information may be used. You may also choose to pick up the phone and discuss details in person when contact information is provided.

Although e-commerce carries risks, it is no less secure than making purchases over the phone or in a brick and mortar store. If you, as a consumer, exercise caution with regard to whom you provide personal information, and if vendors uphold standard security procedures, the risks of credit card fraud and misuse of information are greatly reduced. In the event that your credit card number does fall into the wrong hands, report the fraud immediately (which is a good reason to thoroughly check each credit card statement). In most cases you will not be held responsible for these charges.

Authored by Linda Bustos, CreditorWeb. Original article published 18 July 2007, copyright Ten Spider Enterprises, LLC, & Linda Bustos.

Follow links to the right to learn more about online shopping protection. At the left margin, Related Links address topics of interest pertaining to security and consumer protection. View the Security & Consumer Protection SiteMap for a complete list of security and consumer protection topics.

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