How To Shop Online Securely

Online shopping has become one of the easiest, cost effective and convenient ways to procure products and services. Consumers save gas money, time and sometimes even sales tax by shopping online. Fortunately, buying online is also generally safe. Knowing where and how to shop online enables you to buy online securely.

Online Shopping Statistics

According to Forrester Research Inc. (2010), as many as 60 percent of consumers do some online shopping on a quarterly basis. The biggest spenders are adults between the ages of 45 and 54, who spend as much as $647 every three months.

Many retailers now realize the value of offering their products online to a worldwide customer base. You can buy electronics, toys, clothes, office supplies, airline tickets or almost anything when you shop online.

Using Credit Cards Online

Shopping with credit cards online is generally the most secure option. As a consumer, you’re protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act for any unauthorized purchases should someone steal your credit card numbers. Although the Act sets your responsibility for unauthorized purchases at $50, some credit card companies offer zero liability, meaning that you won’t have to pay anything if someone uses your card number illegally.

Online debit card purchases aren’t protected in the same way. If a thief manages to obtain your debit card numbers, you may quickly lose all the money in your bank account, and you may be liable for any fraudulent charges.

How to Shop Online Safely

You can protect your personal information online by shopping from reputable, secure websites. Use only one credit card for all of your online purchases and give out as little of your personal information as possible.

Shop only from secure websites to make sure your data is encrypted during transmission. You can detect a secure website by locating an “s” after the “http” in the address bar. The checkout or account page may be the only secure page on the website. A closed padlock on your browser screen also indicates a secure website.

How Do Merchants Ensure Online Shopping Security?

Merchants use encryption technology to keep your personal information safe online. The two main encryption protocols are Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Both of these security protocols work by encrypting your data as it is transmitted from your computer to the merchant’s server. SSL is more commonly used, but SET offers some important security advantages.