Shopping online has become a part of our lives but some still worry that their credit card details will be given to the wrong person. Online shopping is certainly here to stay and online security continues to advance. There are arguments that shopping online can be safer than shopping over the phone or even in person, as you never hand your card details over to another person. Just remember to follow these tips to keep your online shopping a safe and secure experience.
Ensure that you know the identity, location and contact details of the online retailer. There are online companies whose brand name is recognizable, such as Amazon. Additionally, many real life stores now include an online retailing arm as part of their retail services and you already know their reputations. It is important, however, to establish the identity of lesser-known online companies who do not have instant recognition or external store status. In this case, it is important to look for the name, company registration details for your country, contact details that include an e-mail, postal address and telephone number and a clear indication of where the company's headquarters is based.
Find out more about a company's reputation. After looking for these signs of identification, it is a good idea to ensure that the company has a good online reputation. Do not assume that just because a store in the real world sells things one way that their online service will be as good. There might be a risk of lacking service back up or returns policies etc. for online purchases that do not exist if you buy direct in the store. Reputation can be checked via searches of the internet for comments from others on consumer review sites. Many reputable online companies allow people to rate their service and products on the site itself, for example computer and camera stores. You can read these reviews for yourself to decide. Another way to determine an online company's reputation is to check for complaints through a consumer affair's bureau, such as the Better Business Bureau. Such organizations can give you more details about a company, including any complaints. In addition, you can always phone or e-mail a company the first time you purchase something and ask questions.
Find out about billing, guarantees and delivery before you buy. Always look for the additional costs and payment details before sending credit card details. Look for:Packaging costs - these should be evident up front
Delivery costs - these should be evident up front
Whether you will be billed before or after delivery of the products
Whether you can track the item from the moment of purchase to arrival at your door - this will help alert you of any hiccups in the delivery
Whether the product comes with a guarantee or warranty for defects etc.
How you can return the product if it doesn't work or meet your expectations - look for information on the site about cancellations, returns and refunds. Print off a copy for future reference.
Who will bear the cost of returning the item (postage, fees etc.)
If there is a cooling off period for large price items
Only use secure websites if you are transferring funds via the site. Once you're happy with the company you are purchasing from, ensure that your credit card details are going to be processed using a secure connection. The most common form of secure encryption is known as Secure Sockets Layer or SSL for short. SSL encrypts data and breaks it up into small pieces so that the information cannot be read by anyone wanting to intercept it. To check that your place of purchase is using SSL or secure technology there are a few things to look out for in your Internet browser:Depending on your browser settings you may receive a message stating that you are entering a secure area. The secure area normally begins on the first page where you enter personal details.
Most often the address bar in your browser will change from starting with http to https. The "s" indicates the site is secure but note that often you won't see the "s" until you are on the order page itself.
You can also look out for a padlock symbol in your browser symbolizing the page is secure. The padlock should be closed. If it is open, assume the site is not secure. 
An unbroken key may also be present on a secure website.
Take care when entering information. Be sure to enter the correct details when typing in your order. An incorrect address, amount of items or wrong item code can cause many difficulties. Always review the information before pressing send.
Use a credit card with online fraud protection. Just in case all else fails it pays to know the policy for online fraud protection offered by your credit card company. Many credit card companies offer protection against purchases made without your consent and have special clauses to include online purchases.
Install a Phishing Filter. There are various phishing filters, like SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer, which will help protect you from phishing sites by warning you when it detects a distrustful website.
Record purchase details. After purchasing your item, always record the details of the time, date, receipt number, and order confirmation. If you cannot print one off, take a screenshot as a form of proof of purchase.
Be aware of email scams designed to part you from your credit card information. Email frauds that are designed to gather personal information such as passwords and credit card details are known as phishing emails. The idea is that thousands or hundreds of thousands are sent out in the hope of reeling in unsuspecting victims and getting them to part with confidential information. The emails appear to be from well-known companies and can look quite convincing. However, legitimate companies, including all banks, will never send you an email with a link requesting your login, password, or credit card details. If in doubt, type the web address of the company it relates to directly into the browser rather than following the email link.