Published on January 28, 2008
As online purchasing increases, more and more people expose themselves to the threat of identify theft, fraud and virus infestations - yet there are simple ways to avoid the pitfalls.
IBM has formulated five simple tips to help consumers reduce the risk of online shopping. Shoppers will be better able to assess the safety of a site, learn how to purchase online in the safest manner and what to watch out for.
Just because it has a padlock, it doesn't mean that it's a safe site
Always make sure that the Web page on which you are entering your address details and credit-card details is done over HTTPS.
Also check and make sure that the certificate is registered to the retailer you're visiting.
Double clicking on the padlock icon located in the bottom of the Web browser will provide details about the security certificate.
Never use a debit card to purchase goods online
Credit cards enable you to contest any fraudulent transactions prior to paying your monthly statement.
Debit-card transactions are immediately withdrawn, and you will have to successfully contest a fraudulent transaction before your money can be recovered.
Don't click on the links listed within e-mails that appear to come from an online retailer
In many cases, during peak periods such as the holiday season, many of the e-mail offers you receive could be fake. Instead clicking on links, manually type the URL into your Web browser.
If you're in a rush, just type the name of the website, and navigate to the page you want from there.
If you're not sure about a website and the specials it is offering, don't stay on the site - go elsewhere.
If it looks like a deal too good to be true, it probably is Many seasonal sites appear and are purposefully designed to propagate "drive-by-download" attacks and silently install malware (malicious software) on the visitor's computer.
Be careful with the data being asked for to validate your purchase
No online retailer should be asking for details beyond your name, billing address, card number, card expiry date and CVV2 code on the back of the card.
You may be asked about additional contact details, such as phone numbers for arranging delivery. Only supply them if you trust the site to keep them confidential.
You should never be asked for personal details such as your Social Security number, mother's maiden name or card PIN. Legitimate retailers would never ask for any of this additional information.
If you encounter websites asking for these details - STOP - and immediately contact your bank to report them.