Online Shopping a common Scenario

I will never, ever buy anything over the internet! Have you ever said this? I have heard this statement from numerous people. The first question I ask them is; Why? When i ask them this question I get a range of answers but the most popular reactions are: ‘I don’t know who I’m giving my information to, how can i trust them’, or ‘The internet is not secure electronic shops electronics enough’, or ‘There are thieves everywhere on the internet. ha

Let go via a little scenario.

You take your family out for a nice meal at a local restaurant, and have an enjoyable meal. The waiter/waitress brings the bill, you check to make sure it right and then pay your credit card, they walk away to process the transaction. The server brings you the bill and the slip, you sign the slip and hand it back, the server should check to make sure that your signature is correct and hands back your credit card. This sounds like a normal transaction that takes place countless times everyday around the world.

Now let’s look at what really happened here. When you handed over your credit card to this individual you gave them a wealth of information whether you realize it or not. The server has now walked away with your card and an dishonest person might take advantage of this. The information available to them to copy at their leisure is your credit card account number, the expiry date, the security number on the back of the card and a copy of your signature. This is more than enough information for a burglar to use to purchase goods on your card.

We don’t normally think about this because using our credit cards at the local restaurant or store is a normal part of life for many of us. We have a face and usually a name to the person that we are dealing with and that gives us a certain level of comfort, an perhaps instills a certain amount of trust in the individual and the business we are dealing with, but do we really know the person we are dealing with, in most cases most likely not. So what we work on is the perception of trust.

Now this is a pessimistic scenario, most people are honest, and law abiding and the overall gambling around credit theft this way is extremely low, so i don’t want to alarm anyone but instead wanted to make use of this example to make my point. Performing over the internet can be no more risky than giving your credit card over to the entire new person serving you in the restaurant.

So now let’s look to see what are the results when you purchase goods on the internet.

You surf to a site where you find something that you either really want or need. You feel the process to order materials and come to the screen where the company is now asking to enter your credit card number, this generally causes the customer to temporarily stop to ponder whether or not taking the next phase is the right thing to do. This is the right reaction, you are about to enter some sensitive information on a questionnaire where this information will be sent in an electronic format over the internet to the company that you want to deal with. To make you more comfortable in placing an order there are a few things that you should look out for.

Making your Shopping Experience Comfortable.

When dealing with the store downtown you know how to discover their whereabouts if there are any problems with the products you buy. You have an address, a telephone number and most likely the name of the person that you are dealing with, so if you have any issue you know where to go and who to talk to in order to get any issues resolved.

Since the business you are dealing with is online finding them really should not be a problem, but the company should also provide other means of contacting them in case you have a problem with the product.

Confirm if they offer a telephone number and hours of business. If you are at all uncomfortable with dealing with a particular company, call them, you may find that a simple phone call will set your brain at ease. Suddenly you have a name and voice to go with the company.

Look for a home address, a street address is always more viable than simply a PO box. Either way this gives you another method of communicating with the company, and if your issue could lead to legal action sending a registered letter to the harmful party can be very useful.

If you have questions about how a company operates, call them or send and e-mail. You’ll be able get a sense about a company, in how they respond and how prompt they are at replying at customer asks. If they don’t respond in a professional manner then you may shouldn’t deal with them, or if it takes them a long time to respond to your request then you must wonder if this is the same service you would receive after the sale.
Technical Lists to look for.

There are also other technical lists to look for as well. You are going to be sending sensitive personal and financial information over the internet so you have to make sure that the company that you’re dealing with is taking good care of your interests as well.

Encryption:

The web page where you enter your personal and financial information should be protected by encryption. The form of encryption is called SSL (Secure Outlet Layer) this is the industry standard for making secure transactions over the internet.

To verify that your information will be encrypted you should look for a visual hint as to that the internet browser makers have built in the web browser. For Ie users a small pad lock will be at lower right hand corner of the web browser window. If you see this you know that your information is being protected. For Ie users a key will be towards the bottom right hand side of the screen to indicate that the information entered on the web page will be encrypted.

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