I will never, ever buy anything over the Internet! Have you ever said this? I have heard this statement from a number of people. The first question I ask them is; Why? When I ask them this question I get a range of answers but the most popular responses are: ‘I don’t know who I’m giving my information to, how can I trust them’, or ‘The internet is not secure enough’, or ‘There are thieves everywhere on the internet.’
You take your family out for a nice online shopping in islamabad supper at a local restaurant, and have an enjoyable meal. The waiter/waitress brings the bill, you check to make sure it right and then hand over your credit card, they walk away to process the transaction. The server brings you the bill and the slip, you sign the slip and hand it back, the server should check to make sure that your signature is correct and hands back your credit card. This sounds like a normal transaction that happens countless times everyday around the world.
Now let’s look at what really happened here. When you handed over your credit card to this individual you gave them a wealth of information whether you realize it or not. The server has now walked away with your card and an unscrupulous person might take advantage of this. The information available to them to copy at their leisure is your credit card account number, the expiration date, the security number on the back of the card and a copy of your signature. This is more than enough information for a thief to use to purchase goods on your card.
We don’t normally think about this because using our credit cards at the local restaurant or store is a normal part of life for most of us. We have a face and usually a name to the person that we are dealing with and that gives us a certain level of comfort, an perhaps instills a certain amount of trust in the individual and the business we are dealing with, but do we really know the person we are dealing with, in most cases probably not. So what we work on is the perception of trust.
Now this is a pessimistic scenario, most people are honest, and law abiding and the overall stats around credit theft in this manner is extremely low, so I don’t want to alarm anyone but instead wanted to use this example to make my point. Doing business over the internet can be no more risky than handing your credit card over to the complete stranger serving you in the restaurant.
You surf to a site where you find something that you either really want or need. You go through the process to order the goods and come to the screen where the company is now asking you to enter your credit card number, this generally causes the customer to pause to contemplate whether or not taking the next step is the right thing to do. This is the right reaction, you are about to enter some sensitive information on a form where this information will be sent electronically over the internet to the company that you want to deal with. So to make you more comfortable in placing an order there are a few things that you should look out for.
When dealing with the store down the street you know how to find them if there are any problems with the products you purchase. You have an address, a phone number and most likely the name of the person that you are dealing with, so if you have any problem you know where to go and who to talk to in order to get any issues resolved.
Check to see if they offer a phone number and hours of business. If you are at all uncomfortable with dealing with a particular company, call them, you may find that a simple phone call will set your mind at ease. Suddenly you have a name and voice to go with the company.
Look for a physical address, a street address is always more viable than just a PO box. Either way this gives you another method of communicating with the company, and if your issue could lead to legal action sending a registered letter to the offending party can be very useful.
If you have questions about how a company operates, call them or send and e-mail. You’ll be able get a sense about a company, in the way they respond and how prompt they are at responding at customer requests. If they don’t respond in a professional manner then perhaps you shouldn’t deal with them, or if it takes them a long time to respond to your request then you would have to wonder if this is the same service you would receive after the sale.
Technical Queues to Look for.
There are also other technical queues to look for as well. You are going to be sending sensitive personal and financial information over the internet so you have to make sure that the company that you’re dealing with is looking after your interests as well.
The web page where you enter your personal and financial information should be protected by encryption. The form of encryption is called SSL (Secure Socket Layer) this is the industry standard for making secure transactions over the internet.
To verify that your information will be encrypted you should look for a visual clue that the web browser makers have built into the browser. For Internet Explorer users a small pad lock will appear at lower right hand corner of the browser window. If you see this you know that your information is being protected. For Firefox users a key will ap