There is nothing about Ecommerce that makes it less safe than handing over your Credit Card any other way, for example to a waiter in a restaurant. Safety online is about common sense, and it pays – quite literally – to check the following when shopping online:
• What Refunds and Returns Policies apply?
What warranties are claimable in your Country? A lot of confusion arises in online shopping because something is bought from outside the Sellers country of origin and the Customer may not be able to redeem certain warranties outside that region by law. Check this out before you buy! Some items may also attract Import duties and other levies, which is completely outside the influence of the person selling you the product.
• Who charges the Customer?
A lot of confusion also arises because people forget that some online shops use a third-party service to do the actual transaction — such as PayPal for example. Therefore, the PayPal company might appear on your statement as the entity taking funds from your account, not necessarily the shop name or website (although this is actually referenced as well) and you may think it is a false transaction and cancel it – only to find you’ve done a responsible Merchant out of their money! This is responsible for over 80% of chargebacks on Credit Cards – and more fees as a result because of the incidence of people reporting this as Internet “fraud”. A lot of this is NOT actually fraud but people misinterpreting who is actually responsible for charging them on the Merchant’s behalf at the final stage of the transaction.
• Contacting the Merchant — is this easy for the Customer?
Can you contact the seller easily? Do they have multiple ways to get in touch? Is the shop located at the same address given by the seller? Check out their location against any trade or business directory. If it is a home-based business, check the address and contact number against the name of the shop & site owner. This can all be done easily. If it doesn’t match it may very well be an unsafe place to shop, so be wary. But if they are a registered company, are easy to contact, and are prompt in responding to any questions about this, they are probably not in the business of doing you out of your money.
• The Website environment itself
Does it have a Secure Server Certificate? Is the shop experience itself secure: do you go through a secure online checkout system (as evidenced by a padlock at the bottom of your browser)? What details are they requiring from you?