Protecting yourself while shopping online #2

I’ve recently received a couple of questions regarding last weeks safe shopping article in which I discussed the bases that you could cover in order to protect yourself whilst shopping online.Below I have printed one such e-mail which raised a couple of unanswered questions:

I recently read your article supporting Internet shopping with interest as I have always feared shopping online because I have had friends whose cards have been “cloned”.You mentioned a couple of interesting points regarding the protection your credit card company will extend to you however I only have a debit card and so in your opinion would this be equally safe to use?

I am myself aware of checking that the site has padlock symbol on the bottom of the toolbar and that its website starts with ‘https’ but are there any other checks which would help?

Seán, Brixham

This is an interesting question and one that I had to do a little bit of research on in order to find a satisfactory answer.In terms of the protection offered to you by your debit card company I discovered that unfortunately this is a little less than when using a credit card.Because there is no ‘credit’ involved when you purchase a good by debit card you are unfortunately not covered by the Consumer Credit Act and therefore if you are trying to retrieve any money off a company then the card issuer isn’t equally liable.With a credit card you would be entitled to claim the money back off the card issuer and they in turn will chase the retailer in order to obtain the money themselves.Although debit cards don’t afford you this protection there isn’t a huge need to worry as in the event of a non delivery, bankruptcy or a fraudulent transaction the financial institutions would claim the money back off the companies merchant bankers who in turn would be left to claim the money back off their clients.

With regards to checking out potential suppliers I would tend to suggest using simple common sense.As you mention; check for the padlock symbol when entering your card details as this means your card details are being securely transmitted but other than that you should be able to do your own research in order to establish how legitimate the company is.I tend to work on a number of factors and so far have never suffered a fraudulent Internet transaction.

-Does the website look professional?I would tend to trust a nicely designed site with my card details rather than one that looks like it was designed by a 5 year old, is riddled with errors and has a large amount of out of date, non rotating stock.

-Check the Internet for reviews of the company you are about to purchase from.Obviously take them with a pinch of salt but a quick search on Google and you should get an idea as to their customer service reputation.

-Install the Google and Alexa Toolbars – Although in no way a guarantee this will show you how important Google ranks a particular page and the Alexa toolbar will show you how popular the site is on the Internet.If Google rate it as PR0 (the lowest available) and according to Alexa no one ever visits it I would be cautious about giving them your card details.If a site has a large number of visitors and it doing a lot more business it is probably a lot safer to assume that they won’t be going out of business before your goods are delivered.

-Check for contact details and try phoning them just before you actually place an order.Be very careful about buying from a site with no phone number unless it’s a name you know you can trust.

-Don’t place too much importance on logos such as ‘ShopBuy’ and ‘ICOMMU’ – I have these logos on and know that it’s basically just a way for the logo issuers to make money off merchants such as myself.These schemes do very few background checks on a company and are very limited in how they can help should anything go wrong.

-Don’t pay by cheque; you have practically no protection in the event of a non delivery.

The above points are only my own personal methods of shopping online so don’t take them as gospel and whilst to the best of my knowledge the legal standpoint at the beginning of this article is correct, please do check with your debit card issuer.If you want to download last weeks article about protecting your card online or read up about the Alexa and Google please visit



About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.