As more and more of us do our shopping online, itís important to know what to look for when purchasing. When created correctly, online shopping sites are a simple, safe way to buy. (In fact, you can make the argument that your credit card information actually is safer traveling secured online channels than it is when you sign a sales slip with carbons that could end up in unscrupulous hands.)
The trouble is that not all Internet sites are secured properly. Any Web developer with any Internet knowledge at ALL should not be creating ecommerce forms that arenít secured. Yet they do. In fact, Iíve run across a couple of them recently. The irresponsibility of this practice infuriates me more than I can possibly express. If you are a businessperson and hire someone to work on an ecommerce site, be sure that the developer understands security issues. No ďprofessionalĒ Web firm should be doing ecommerce anything, if they arenít willing to learn about the security issues inherent in online transactions.
The most important step is when you get to check out. Before typing your credit card information into a Web form, in your browser, look for either https:// on the address line or a little lock icon. Either one of these two indicators show that the form is secure. A plain-vanilla Web form, such as a contact form, is not secure. All it does is send an e-mail, and by itself, e-mail is not secure. So never enter credit card info into a form when you donít see the lock or the https:// on the address line.
When youíre done, print out your receipts and e-mail confirmations, so you have a record of the transaction. If thereís a problem, youíll be glad you did.