Safe Shopping Online


This NZS.nz article gives you tips for feeling safe and secure when finding online shops and paying by credit card online.

Nervous about shopping online? Your privacy is not always under threat when shopping online, and there are several ways for safe shopping online – read on for NZS.nz’s top tips for a seamless online shopping trip.

Online shopping is pretty common in the 21st century, most people have bought something online in one form or another. There are some great bargains online to be had, as many online stores offer discounts that make you wonder why anyone still goes to retails stores.

Some shoppers, however, are still hesitant about shopping online. We’ve all heard some of the stories of people getting ripped off by illegitimate web stores – and there is reason to be cautious online, as there are some very unreliable ‘online stores’ out there. Shopping on the net doesn’t have to make you weary, as there are many ways to ensure safe shopping online for you and your family.

The risks of online bargain shopping can be minimised by first only buying from reputable sources. As a general rule, the bigger and more well known the website, the better. Generally, the only problems that will occur with large online stores are delays or mispacking, very rarely do goods go missing or never turn up when you buy online from a well-known company. Because large companies also have service teams who deal with orders all day long, they will be able to sort out any issues that do arise for you at their cost.

Problems more often arise when shopping online when a shopper wants a particular product with limited availability – whereby they need to go to a lesser known online store to purchase the product, or purchase the products from the other side of the world. While there are many large international online retailers which are safe to deal with (Amazon, for example), use your instincts when thinking about making a purchase from a website which looks low in quality and that you’ve never heard of before. Finding details such as a physical address and phone number is often a good sign if you are unsure, so don’t hesitate to call and make sure there is someone on the other line to take your call.

Finding Secure Websites

The first step in safe online shopping is making sure the website you are about to buy from is secure. Once you’re at the online checkout, make sure you can see a small, locked padlock in the bottom right-hand corner of your internet browser. Be careful to make sure that the padlock is actually on the browser itself, as there are many websites which simply mimic that padlock with an image on their web page, leading shoppers to believe they are buying securely. Additionally, make sure the URL starts with https:// (the ‘s’ stands for secure).

Double clicking on this padlock to view the page owner information will ensure its validity – but remember you also need to check the security certificate within the Page Info pop-up to make sure it is current, and has not expired. You will also want to check the company who are listed as issuing the certificate, to make sure they are a trusted third party. This should be a well known third party such as VeriSign, Secure SSL or Thawte – but if you are unsure, just do an online search for information about them and visit their website as a background check.

Paying By Credit Card

Once you’ve determined that the website you are buying from is reputable and that their security certificate is valid, you can proceed with payment.

As an alternative to credit cards, many websites offer the use of PayPal, which is a trusted third party which holds your money from an electronic transfer until the sale in completed, rather than the money going straight to the online store. This is a great option to use where available.

For new online shoppers, it may take a few purchases to make you feel comfortable with paying online – but sticking with reliable suppliers should ensure you a seamless process every time.

Make Sure You Log Out!

Even if you’re using you home computer (but more importantly, if you’re using a work, public or someone else’s computer), make sure you log out of the online store’s database. While most reputable stores have time-out precautions for log-ins, it’s best to never risk having your personal payment details openly stored in your browser. As an additional precaution, you can clear the history, cookies, cache and other private data from the Options menu in your web browser, to ensure nothing is stores for anyone else to stumble upon.