Issues with Buying products and Services online

Buying goods online

There are many potential concerns when purchasing goods over the internet due to the possible security issues of other individuals obtaining banking details and the potential identity theft problems which can stem from this.

However, despite these concerns many argue that it is in fact safer to buy goods online than over the phone or in a shop.

What is the reason for this position?

The reason behind this thought is that if the online payment is handled properly an individual’s banking details will be encrypted which means that they cannot be viewed by anyone other than those handling the transaction – in most cases the banks.

If you were to use your debit or credit card in a shop there is the possibility of the card details being duplicated by an individual working in the shop. In similar fashion if you are to give your credit or debit card details over the phone you run the risk of the individual on the other end taking them down if it is not an automated service.

Is there anything which I should do to ensure that my online shopping is done in the safest of manners?

The following things should be done to ensure that any online shopping is done in the safest of manners:

  • Ensure that the web-browser being used is set to the highest level of security notification and monitoring
  • Ensure that you know who you’re dealing with before you buy any goods – this can be done by obtaining the sellers’ phone number and postal address. In this situation you must ensure that the telephone number is not a mobile and the address is not a PO Box Number
  • Ensure that you only shop on secure sites – before you submit any payment details you must ensure that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in the browser window. Furthermore when purchasing from online using a secure connection the online retailers internet address will change from http to https when a purchase is made
  • Ensure that you shop on sites which you know are secure or which have been recommended to you
  • Ensure that you only give your card details when you are sure that the site is secure – if you are not sure on this find an alternative method of payment
  • Ensure that you never disclose your pin and that you never send it to anyone over the internet
  • Ensure that you click on the security icon to find out as to whether the retailer has a valid encryption certificate. If this is the case the address on the certificate should match the primary address in the address bar
  • Having made your order you should ensure that you print out and make copies of your order but also the terms and conditions of sale. In certain situations there may be additional charges such as local taxes and postage – this is often the case if you purchase goods from abroad
  • Ensure that you are fully aware of any payment commitments which you may be entering into
  • Ensure that you check your statements from the accounts used as soon as is reasonably practicable. If you find that any discrepancies occur it is advisable to contact the retailer as soon as you can
  • If you make regular payments over the internet it may be advisable to obtain a separate credit card account simply for these transactions

Is there anything else which I should be aware of?

When purchasing goods or services over the internet retailers or service providers will be undertaking a practice called distance selling. Accordingly due to the nature of distance selling there are various rights of the consumers which must be adhered to. If a retailer or a service provider does not adhere to these requirements they can be liable. It is advisable to ensure that you are fully aware of the obligations under the following regulations to ensure that the retailer or service provider you are dealing with adheres to them:

  •       Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 – for all goods and services
  •       Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations 2004 – for financial services