Your Money & The Internet

Paying for Goods on the Internet

Paying for Goods on the Internet – Answers

Is shopping on the Internet safe?
As the Office of Fair Trading says “Your shopping experience should be no more risky than buying by mail order or on the phone, but you need to be aware of possible dangers and should take certain precautions to make shopping on the Internet safe.” This leaflet should help you to know what those precautions are.

How can I tell that the business I want to deal with on the Internet is genuine, by looking at their website?
The vast majority of businesses operating on the Internet are genuine. However, criminals can set up websites masquerading as businesses in order to obtain card details. You should keep a record of the business’s street address and a non-mobile phone number, and cross-check the details in a telephone directory, to help verify it is a legitimate business. A separate but vital recommendation is that you only give your card details to organisations which encrypt transaction data. You can tell whether an organisation uses encryption by clicking on the security icon on your browser – this will show whether it has an encryption certificate and what level of security is used. Also note that a certificate does not vouch for the integrity of the company to which it is issued, it only ensures that the connection between you and that organisation is secure.

Is it safe to quote my plastic card number when I am ordering goods over the Internet?
Before giving your card details, it is important to check the security settings in your browser are switched on. This can tell you when a secure connection is established between you and the business, which is usually depicted by the open padlock icon on your screen changing to a locked position. Some cardholders are concerned that criminals can intercept card details across the Internet, and although there is negligible evidence of this occurring, the card industry is continually developing methods to improve security. If you take precautions to ensure that the business you are dealing with uses encryption technology and is a legitimate business, Internet purchases are just as safe as using telephone or mail order.

Will plastic card transactions over the Internet be safer in the future?
Banks are currently working with major international card schemes, retailers and suppliers to develop systems which protect the sensitive data used in electronic commerce. This means that in the near future Internet payments by a variety of electronic commerce technologies will become commonplace as well as secure. Chip cards will play a pivotal role in providing the base for secure transaction technology in the long term.

If I decide to pay over the Internet, is there anything I can do to maximise the security of my transactions?
Yes! Follow this ten point internet shopping checklist:

  1. Make sure your browser is set to the highest level of security notification and monitoring – the safety options are not always activated by default when you install your computer.
  2. Two of the most popular browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer (use version 3.02 or higher) and Netscape Navigator (use version 3.03 or higher). If you have a different browser or use on-line services such as AOL (America On-Line) or Compuserve – contact your Internet Service Provider or software supplier to find out how to activate their security features.
  3. Keep a record of the retailer’s contact details including a street address and a non-mobile telephone number. Beware if these details are not available on the website, and do not rely on email addresses alone.
  4. Click on the security icon to see if the retailer has an encryption certificate, which should explain the type and extent of security and encryption it uses. Only use companies that have an encryption certificate and use secure transaction technology.
  5. If you have any queries or concerns, telephone the company before giving your card details to reassure yourself that you are dealing with a legitimate business.
  6. Print out your order and consider keeping copies of the retailer’s terms and conditions and returns policy. Be aware that there may be possible additional charges such as postage and VAT. If you are purchasing goods from traders abroad, err on the side of caution, and remember that it may be difficult to seek redress if problems arise.
  7. Check statements from your bank or card issuer carefully as soon as you receive them. Raise any discrepancies with the retailer concerned in the first instance. If you find any transaction on your statement that you are certain you did not make, contact your card issuer immediately.
  8. Ensure you are fully aware of any payment commitments you are entering into, including whether you are instructing a single payment or a series of recurring payments.
  9. Never disclose your card’s PIN number to anyone, including people claiming to be from your bank or the police, and NEVER write it down or send it over the Internet.
  10. If you have any doubts about giving your card details, find another method of payment.

Where can I get further information?
On Internet/PC banking – contact your bank
On on-line shopping – see the Office of Fair Trading’s On-line Shopping Advice.

The ‘Your Money and the Internet’ document is reproduced with the permission of BBA Enterprises Ltd. Copyright of this material remains with BBA Enterprises Ltd.

All rights reserved. © BBA Enterprises Ltd 2003-2013

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