The most obvious sign to look for in a secure online store is the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. An SSL certificate is a programming protocol that encrypts data during its transport over the Internet. It is easy to notice if a site has one of these in place. You should look at the address bar on the top of the webpage before entering any sensitive information. Does it have an https:// at the beginning? Normally you would see an http:// in front of the web address.
A secured page will display an ‘s’ at the end. Another way to notice if the site is secure is to look for the image of a padlock at the bottom of the web browser window. A closed padlock designates a secure site. Never enter your credit card or other personal information without making sure the site is secure first. Another security measure used by reputable online stores is allowing credit card payments. Online stores do also accept credit cards, but it is in your best interests to use a credit card.
The government has issued the Fair Credit Billing Act, which allows you dispute unwanted charges on your credit card. In the case of credit card information theft, you will only be responsible for the first $50 of illegal purchases. This does not apply to all debit cards. It is much long process to recover funds stolen from a debit card since they were deducted directly from your bank account. Finally, do not pay for any online products or services with a money transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram. The only exception to this would be the highly-secure online funds transactions by PayPal. Example:
I often witnessed a breach of security due to human error while using Redbox’s movie rental system while it was still in its early days. The Redbox system simplifies the entire DVD renting process, using a network connection to process payments and send receipts. Since they only accept credit or debit cards, they added the requirement of entering a zip code in order to safely process the transaction. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up being quite so safe.
Many times as I stood in line waiting to get a movie, I saw the person in front of me not read the screen carefully and put in their pin number rather than their zip code. Since the Redbox system was expecting a zip code, they didn’t encrypt the numbers. The pin number would be sitting on the screen for anyone to see. The person would then stand there foolishly, card in hand, wondering why their pin number was not being accepted. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for someone to grab the card and spend all the money on it using the pin number they just saw. The problem could have been prevented by simply reading the directions on the screen and being aware of Redbox’s card processing policies.
About the Author:
Natalie Clive is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com.
My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right
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