The third quarter of 2012 saw consumers spending over $42 billion on online purchases. This only goes to show that more and more people have become quite dependent on online shopping. The main reason for this is the ease and comfort that online shopping presents. Finding your way through online stores and filling your ecommerce shopping cart literally takes but a few clicks on your keyboard. You can shop without breaking sweat.
However, as more people are exploring the convenience of online shopping, the chances of falling victim to Internet friend have increased, too. Studies show that individual fraud victims lose an average of $2,000 annually. Victims fall prey to Internet fraud through general merchandise purchases (misrepresented goods or goods that they never received) and auction purchases.
That is not to say that all ecommerce websites are fraudulent. Many online stores are reputable, and in fact, these stores have taken the necessary safety precautions to ensure that consumers are protected. However, it never hurts to proceed cautiously at all times. Here are some things you can do to ensure your safety as a consumer:
- Use only one credit card for your purchases, preferably one with a low credit limit.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers coming from sellers. Remember, the Internet is rife with scammers.
- As much as possible, you should only shop only from reputable online stores that list a valid street address and other contact details on their websites.
- Check for a lock symbol in the status bar at the bottom of your Web browser window. In addition, do not provide your personal information if the website address doesn’t start with “https” (a sign that the site is using a secure server).
- Choose only verified sellers. Check to see if the vendor is a verified member of reputable third party entities such as the Better Business Bureau or VeriSign. These third party sites ensure the protection of online consumers like you.
- Keep a paper trail of all online transactions.
Finally, if what a website offers seems too good to be true, it probably is. Keep away from it.