The ability to create a website in a matter of hours has resulted in an explosion of online e-commerce stores. While increased competition is always good for the consumer, the ease in which websites can be made has also increased the number of nefarious websites which are looking to scam consumers. Therefore, it is more important than ever to be extra cautious when shopping online, we have outlined some steps so that you can make sure a website is safe before handing over any of your details.
Secure or not secure
Thankfully there are now several ways to check whether a website is secure or not. One commonly used security measure is SSL, or security socket layer, this is a certificate that companies can purchase and offers end-to-end user protection, which means that criminals can not read or modify any of your private details once you have entered them into a webpage.
The easiest way to check if a website is SSL protected is by looking at the search bar in your browser. The website address should start with https:// not http:// - where the "s" stands for secure - if this is the case then it means the website has purchased a SSL certificate and is most likely protected. Importantly, you must also check to see if there is a small green padlock next to the website address. If the padlock is green, this means that all elements on the page are secure, without it, your data could still be leaked.
Check the domain
One of the biggest tricks that scammers like to try is creating a site that has a very similar domain name to the popular website it is trying to imitate - think amazon.com and amaz0n.com - often people see a roughly familiar name and trust the site.
Scam emails which notify you of various expiring subscriptions - which you don't have - do the same, they send emails from a domain that looks similar, but the links take you to a website that will steal your card details.
So make sure to take a quick look at the website name, it is a simple but essential check that you should make before finishing your purchase and entering any credit card details.
Verify contact details
Checking the contact details of the company you intend to buy off is quick, easy and a very effective way to ensure your security online. Companies typically have an online footprint that is easy to track and if a company provides contact details such as their address, email, and a phone number it is usually a good sign. Using the details on their website you can see if their address is listed elsewhere online and this means you can cross check the various sources and see if they match. Another method is to check the company details on multiple social media platforms to see if they are consistent - active social media accounts are usually another great sign that a company is legitimate because a lot of spam websites do not put in the time and effort to cultivate an online persona.
Trustworthy websites tend to have a clean interface that is easy to navigate and does not interfere with the user experience. Conversely, sites that lack security and put your details at risk tend to have a lot of unrelated pop-ups that link to outside websites and also have an abundance of invasive advertisements. So when purchasing anything online make sure to shop at sites that look and feel reliable while offering a straightforward customer experience, in essence, it is trusting your gut feeling about the interface of the website and is an excellent technique for checking the reliability of a website.
As one of the leading provider of business reviews on the internet with over 56 million reviews, Trustpilot is a fantastic tool that you can utilize to check a companies credibility. Their user based review system collates an overall score and gives each business a star-rating, with the highest available score being 5. If you have tried the other methods mentioned above but would like a final peer-reviewed confirmation on the reliability of a company, then this is an optional extra that will offer you some peace of mind, if nothing else.
There are a lot of indicators to help you navigate untrustworthy sites, some of them are provided by the browser that you use, and others require a cautious approach when you visit new or unknown websites. Just be sure to take your time and do your homework before inputting any information.