Safe online shopping

Tips for secure shopping

More and more people are shopping at different online stores. Unfortunately, there are dishonest merchants who take advantage of the people’s shopping enthusiasm and decreased attention towards the security of online stores.

The websites of dishonest merchants are often reached through social media. When reading posts made by friends on social media, people are attracted by exclusive offers that cannot be overlooked. By clicking on the offer, it appears that the product is the last available one, and an emotional purchase will be done.

The Institute of Finances gives 6 tips on how to shop online securely and prevent fraud.

1. Check the merchant’s background before making a purchase
Do not enter your bank card details on an unknown page without checking the merchant’s background. Before making a purchase, it is reasonable to check the merchant’s background on the internet. This way, it is possible to find information in different forums and articles on whether the seller is trustworthy or there are frequent problems with this merchant.
2. Make it clear whether the merchant is a private or legal person
Before making a purchase, make it clear whether the online store belongs to a private or legal person. To this end, please check the bank account to which money should be transferred for a product or service (whether it is a private or commercial account) and verify if the company has been registered in the commercial register. If the seller is a private person, the product or service is not subject to legal protection or consumer rights (right of complaint, 14-day right of withdrawal, etc.). Furthermore, when purchasing from a private person, the consumer protection board cannot be contacted in case of problems.
3. An online store should also have contact details
The website of each online store should have the contact details of the merchant (name of the company, registry code, email address, contact phone), which can be used to ask for additional information or file a complaint.
4. Be convinced that an online store is secure
There are several different options to pay for your purchases on the online store (through a bank link, based on an invoice, with a credit card). By stumbling upon a dishonest merchant, the chance to recover a sum pre-paid by a card is greater with the help of bank, as it will be easier to access the transaction details. Online stores that use the double authentication solutions, such as Verified by VISA and MasterCard SecureCode, or carry the “Secure Shopping Point” label can be considered secure. Online stores labelled in such a manner have been inspected by the Estonian E-Commerce Association and are therefore trustworthy. In addition, you should prefer online stores having a letter “s” at the beginning of their web address (https). In order to minimise risks, the daily limit on card payments should be kept at a level that your daily purchases can be made, but if the card is misused, the damage would be smaller.
5. Find out how the goods can be returned
The website of an online store should contain an explicit description of the purchase process: the obligations and responsibilities of the buyer and seller, the sales and payment terms, delivery period, delivery options. The terms and conditions for returning a product should also be stated. The background of Estonian online merchants can be verified on the website of the consumer protection board.
6. Protect your computer
Purchases should be made only from a trusted and secure computer. This requires regular maintenance of your computer to prevent any spyware from accessing sensitive data. Therefore, you should avoid using, for example, shared computers when entering bank card details.