E-bay, Amazon, Expedia. All of these are solely Internet-based retail outlets, which means they have no brick and mortar store. Of course there are thousands of others! Even department stores are into the game. Why? Because shopping from the convenience of one’s home is, and appears that it will always be, an ever-increasing trend. But how can you tell that you are shopping on a secure website? How can you be sure that you are not being scammed and that your info is not being published to the world? There are a couple of things to keep in mind.
And you really want to keep these points in mind. As thieves and other malcontents learn better how to use technology, you are in increasing danger of being targeted and victimized. Wisdom, vigilance and preparation are your best weapons against these folks.
The first thing you want to make sure you never do is shop on a website that sent an email to your junk folder, and whose link was in that email. For example, I got an email the other day from an online bookstore I frequent. It said I needed to update my account information. This was a scam. I could tell because the originating e-mail address could not be confirmed as being part of that bookstore. So watch out for the email based scams.To sum up: if you get an email from what appears to be a reputable online marketplace or site, take care to not follow any links in that email. Go directly to that site if you want to shop there.
The next thing to keep in mind, and this should make you feel savvy, is that when you are at a secure site, you can look up at the URL to confirm it. If it is secure, the first part of the URL will be ‘https:’ rather than just ‘http:’. That’s right, the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. Most reputable sites use these secure servers these days, so this is a reliable test.
A final thing you can look for when you want to know if a site is secure is the name or icon of some of the gateways to secure servers. Verisign is one of these, and there are plenty more. Often these secure servers have an icon that looks like some kind of lock, and this icon appears somewhere prominent on the website.
Ultimately, being able to spot a secure online shopping site is a matter of keeping your eyes open and being careful. And when in doubt, don’t take your credit card out.