Shopping online was a little scary in the 1990s. The technology didn’t always work so well, and security was an issue. That’s all changed now: most websites are very secure and use software that doesn’t cause browser hiccups, leaving you to wonder if you’ve made a purchase or not.
That said, there are some small, cheap websites out there that aren’t up to date. Here’s how to tell when you’ve found a site that’s safe to do business with.
Your shopping cart and the payment processing of your transaction should all be happening on secure pages. The way to tell is: look at the URL. Does it start “https:?” Then it’s secure. If it’s just “http:” then it’s not, and something’s amiss.
Contact, privacy, etc.
Legitimate sites provide an email contact form, at the very least. If they’re a business, they should include a physical address and phone number as well. If it’s a private individual, they may not include all that (you wouldn’t want your home online, either), but very few individuals would try to sell products online without some kind of address and phone number – a P.O. box and a cheap cell phone isn’t that great a business expense.
A privacy page or statement is crucial. Anyone can simply copy and paste one of these from another site, so there’s no excuse not to have one. If they don’t have a privacy statement ensuring that your personal, identifying data will not be shared with anyone it shouldn’t be, then they don’t know what they’re doing.
About Us pages are also indicators of legitimacy. It should tell you a little about who they are.
Sites certainly don’t have to let people use PayPal to be legitimate – after all, Amazon doesn’t – but when you use PayPal.com, the company you’re buying from never sees any of your credit card numbers. All they see is your name and address, which they would need in order to ship, anyway. PayPal lets you transact safely with almost any yokel on the web, and it doesn’t cost them anything to offer it (PayPal deducts fees from each transaction, but they can just raise their prices to cover the fees). PayPal isn’t available in every country at this time.Tags: Online Shopping