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Updated: November 17, 2011 15:57 IST

Secureshopping

K. VAITHEESWARAN
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Shopping online?: Exercise caution.
NYT
Shopping online?: Exercise caution.

With online shopping on the rise, here are a few tips to make it a worry-free experience.

As Indian consumers start shopping online with great enthusiasm, it is time to bust a few myths and understand a few simple tips to make online shopping safe and enjoyable.

The first myth is that using credit cards and debit cards online is unsafe. The reality is that paying by credit card online is safer than using a credit card offline. Most credit card frauds in the world happen because card details get compromised offline.

In the online world, credit card information is always submitted directly to a bank and never captured by merchants.

Tips

Since you are transacting with virtual companies, here are a few simple tips and pointers you should follow while shopping online:

Look for pedigree. E-commerce is booming and every other day several new e-commerce sites are cropping up. Make sure you check the background and history of the site you want to shop from. Look for sites that have been around for a long time and avoid using new sites who could turn out to be fly-by-night operators out to cash in on the e-commerce boom. Good e-commerce sites also indicate their contact address and phone numbers on their site; look for it.

Link up to references on the company, read magazine interviews by the management team, understand their backgrounds and satisfy yourself that you are dealing with genuine people. You should also read up the About Us link on the website.

Your personal data is your private information. Many e-commerce companies gather a lot of personal data like name, address, e-mail id, mobile numbers and later rent or sell it out to third parties who use it for their own marketing promotions, which can be irritating. Before you shop with any site, check out the Privacy Policy section on the website.

Remember the item you order will get delivered to you after a few days. Sometimes, it may be defective or different from the one you ordered. This means you may need to get it exchanged or replaced or get a complete refund. It is a good idea for you to read the Returns and Refunds policy of the website carefully before you shop.

Your credit card details need to be encrypted for safety. When you come to the page that asks you to pay for your order, please see the address bar (this is where you typically enter the name of a website like www.indiaplaza.com). At the beginning of the address you should be able to read https — the ‘s' stands for “Secure”. Most other pages on any site will start with merely http. You should also see a yellow coloured lock symbol which denotes the site is secure for transactions.

The author is Founder & CEO of Indiaplaza.com, online shopping site.

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