Technology is becoming more and more sophisticated with each passing day leading to advances that optimize the way people communicate, interact, work and purchase goods. However, people’s ingenuity focused on finding new ways to take advantage of this technology in combination with their trusting nature has resulted in new realities. Some examples include recent breaches to business and political institutions using such methods as phishing scams and social engineering deceptions. Hackers (opportunistic hijackers of information) use various channels to reach their victims ranging from telephone, email, websites and even snail mail. This article will look a little deeper into how you can avoid being victimized by malicious activities perpetrated by hackers. Below are 3 things to consider before buying online.
Security is paramount in safe guarding your financial profile but also your most intimate information. Before purchasing online it is important, and sometimes crucial, to avoid trivializing the security measures taken by websites. For instance, does a third-party certificate vendor secure the website? Do they use such certificates as Extended Validation certificates offered by all major web security vendors such as Verisign/Norton Secured and Thawte to validate the authenticity and credibility of a business? Looking at the address bar and confirming there is a green security symbol next to the URL and that it begins with “https://” helps confirm a site’s security. You may also want to confirm the website is PCI compliant, an accreditation set by major credit card vendors to confirm that the website manages credit card information in a safe and secure manner.
2) Credibility Confirmation
Confirming an entity’s credibility is another important factor to consider. There are many online sites that are created for the sole purpose of gathering end user information such as emails, passwords, secret security questions and answers in an effort to exploit and use this information to gain access to even more personal and private information. One way to verify an online company’s credibility is to validate that they have a historical presences eliminating the notion that they could be a fly-by-night operation. One resource that you may access and that could provide you with a confidence rating would be to check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). They can be helpful in obtaining information regarding the company behind the website along with their respective ratings. You can also do a simple search regarding any reviews for that same company and confirming that a third-party vendor has labeled the company as a trusted entity, such as “Google Trusted Stores”. Some of these third party seals also provide additional consumer protection against possible fraud.
3) Price Transparency
This subject is simple to write about. Consumers expect clear and unambiguous sales policies. That means that the product sold on a website needs to be priced clearly and that any additional fees be outlined in a clear manner. This is of greatest importance to the inexperienced shopper who presumes that he/she is dealing in transparency while surprises are lurking ahead. Deceptive merchants are at times very obvious with their tactics and on other occasions can be quite covert about it. Some of the tactics may include hidden fees described as processing fees, insurance and handling or variations of these. The simple result is that the consumer can be subject to a substantial increase in their item cost. In fact, the order total may increase by as much as ten to fifteen percent. Thankfully there is one simple way to avoid these disingenuous tactics. Go back to simple addition and confirm that the total value of the items ordered adds up. Once you do that you will immediately highlight any discrepancy related to potential additional fees that the vendor might be trying to tack on. This less than transparent sales strategy is a popular deceptive means used to fool the consumer into purchasing from a vendor that advertises low prices upfront to attract the consumer after which they can charge them hidden and/or processing fees on the back-end during checkout. It is important to identify the vendors that practice price manipulation tactics because once all of the hidden and/or processing fees are added to the order the savings that the consumer was hoping to realize could be significantly diminished or even completely eliminated.
Although the Internet offers many benefits ranging from open competition, shopping from home, orders conveniently delivered to your door, it is necessary to remain vigilant in an effort to safeguard your private information while enjoying your shopping experience. By following the suggestions above you can greatly diminish the risk of these threats from occurring and avoid less than transparent pricing schemes from deceptive vendors.