Safe Online Shopping - Tips

Online shopping can be very safe and secure if you know who you're dealing with. Follow our ten step guide and you'll be shopping online safely in no time.

There's a question most online retailers get asked from time to time by new customers "why should I trust your online store?" -- in fact why should you trust any online store for that matter.

Trust isn't really the best word to use actually, as it also means faith, which implies that there may not be any logical proof. Verify on the other hand, is a much more suitable word. The question you need to ask yourself is "how do I verify this online store?". The answer is to use a scientific approach to verify the online store, and the easiest way to do that is with a checklist.

At Online Shopping Australia we shop online just like you do, and you'll see a list a of Safe Online Shopping Stores (verified stores where we've shopped online), in the right sidebar of our website.

Safe Online Shopping Checklist:

  1. First impressions are important, browse around a bit and get a feel for the site; check out all the important pages like About Us, Contact Us, Delivery and Payment (there should be no dead links/missing pages here).

  2. Check if there is a listing for the business in the White Pages (Don't be put off if you can't find a listing though, some online stores don't have a telephone number). The online stores postal address should be listed on the Contact Us page, or in the site footer.

  3. Most companies will display their registered business name and number on the About Us page, or in the page footer. In Australia you can verify this information online:

    Be very careful of online shopping stores that display or advertise other business names or incorrect business information on their web site. For example: If you see another web site displaying something like "Copyright© Online Shopping Australia" it's likely this web site is trying to influence or trick your purchase decision by using the name of a trusted web site.
    Except our web site of course :) Online Shopping Australia does not operate any other web sites. Any site using our trusted name should be avoided.

  4. Send an email, chat live or call the business and ask a few questions and see how they respond.Social networks are also a perfect way to contact businesses. Look to see if the business has a Facebook or Twitter account and ask questions there.

  5. Search for the business name or website address online. Unless they're a brand new business you should find multiple references and even comments in forums etc.

  6. Use an online WHOIS service to query the domain name and check the registration information:
    Top Level (.com, .net etc):

  7. Look for a seal to verify the online stores SSL Certificate, and confirm it's still valid. Comodo, Verisign and Thawte are some of the biggest providersof SSL Certificates; usually you can just point or click on the seal for verification.

  8. Make sure the store has a Privacy Policy/Statement (there'll usually be a link to this at the bottom of the page).

  9. Extra validation may be available if the business displays an identity and security verification badge, like ScanAlert (Hacker Safe, McAfee),VeriSign, and ControlScan. Or a seller verification badge, like the new Google Trusted Store Badge, which helps shoppers to identify online stores that offer excellentservice and reliable shipping. You can also look out for other business certifications, endorsements or awards.

  10. Most stores display feedback and comments from previous customers,and they are very useful when it comes to verifying an online retailer. You can usually find plenty of customer comments on a stores Facebook and Twitter pages too.eBay and the Amazon UK and US stores all display feedback ratings for third-party sellers.

You probably feel a bit like Sherlock Holmes now but what you've just done through a methodical process is verify the facts and eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) the risk!

Just one last thing before you go, an SSL certificate provides the necessary encryption to protect the details of your transaction duringthe checkout process. Before you start typing in your credit card information, check that you can see a locked padlock icon at the bottom or top of your browser, and the website address begins with https and not http.