Computer Crime Research Center


Online shopping tips

Date: October 28, 2005

The malls can be crazy during the holiday season with long checkout lines and little parking. But cyberspace is great spot to start your shopping.

According to NewsChannel5, more than ever, people are doing their shopping over the Internet. Many consumers are going online to avoid crowds and parking.

If you're interested in becoming one of the billions of people Web shopping, here's a primer to help get you on your merry way.

3 Simple Steps Everyone Should Take:

1. Use your credit card. (Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, your credit card company covers you for all but $50).

2. Check the seller's privacy policy, payment options, shipping costs and insurance and return policies.

3. Print out and save your online invoices or e-mail order confirmations. These can serve as your insurance policy if you receive the wrong order (or never receive your order).

How To Tell If Your Net Connection Is Secure?

Most online merchants use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt your data, so no third party can view it. If a site's address begins with https, instead of http, the site is using this type of security technology. Another type of security is Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) technology. Sites with SET software will show a locked padlock at the bottom of your screen in Netscape Navigator, or on the status bar in Internet Explorer.

Also, look for the VeriSign seal on a site. This signifies that that business has agreed to comply with the security terms of VeriSign Security Compliance Internet Trust Services -- the leaders in the technology needed to conduct trusted and secure electronic commerce and communications. A site bearing the VeriSign seal assures visitors that the site is secure and that your data will be encrypted. The VeriSign seal also assures that a site is real, the company name and Web site address have been verified and that a background check has been done to confirm that the company has the right to use a specific company name.

How To Find Out If A Store Is Legitimate

To determine if is Web site store is legitimate, check out Internic or Do a search for the site's address. If it's in use, you will see who has registered the domain name and the company's physical address. Often times, you will also see a contact name and phone number.

How To Protect Your Privacy

The TRUSTe online seal program -- with the motto "making the Internet a community that consumers trust and believe in" -- addresses consumers anxiety over sharing personal information on a site.

The TRUSTe privacy seal, or "trustmark," takes you directly to a site's privacy statement. The trustmark is a seal awarded by TRUSTe to Web sites that adhere to established privacy principles and agree to comply with their consumer resolution process. A displayed trustmark signifies to users that the Web site will openly share, at a minimum, what personal information is being gathered, how it will be used, with whom it will be shared, who is gathering the information, what options the user has, what security procedures are in place to prevent misuse or loss and how users can correct information to control its dissemination.

The Better Business Bureau offers a comprehensive guide to online shopping safety. It also has two special programs that rate sites for privacy and reliability.

The Privacy Seal shows that BBBOnLine has verified that business' commitment to privacy. The BBB Reliability Seal shows that site is an online business that has met criteria to be a consumer-friendly site and will stand behind its goods and services.
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