Here are a few tips to follow when making an online purchase:
Use Familiar Websites
Start with the name of the company. If it’s unfamiliar or you’ve heard negative comments about it always look for reviews. A great source of information is the BBB or the Better Business Bureau, this is an organization that analyzes the quality of companies and customer reviews. If the website isn’t found or has significant negative reviews don’t chance losing your information in the process of finding a “good” deal.
Once you have approved of the website check to see who you are purchasing the item from. Many websites, like Amazon, allow you to buy from individuals along with the company itself. If you are purchasing from an individual or a secondary company always make sure you check the policies associated with that particular company or individual. One great example of a policy to check out is returns. If by chance you aren’t in love with the product, you want to be sure that you can return it rather than being stuck with it.
Make Sure Encryption is Used
The most important step is processing the payment. As with any website you should make sure the web address starts with https://. If it begins with http:// or anything else it is not secure. Another way to tell if it is safe is to check the lock image, if it is closed the connection is secure. This means that the personal information you are providing is being encrypted until it is received to the intended recipient. Even if it shows a lock, be careful with the information you’re providing. For example, no online purchase should require you to provide your social security number or birthday.
Save Confirmation Numbers and Check Statements
Once you click the magic purchase button, the watch doesn’t stop. Always watch for either a confirmation number or tracking number associated with your order. This will allow you to question the site if something goes wrong. Without it, it can be difficult to prove you provided your information. Also, be aware of your account statements. Checking your accounts regularly will allow you to notice if a business has billed you and if it is for the correct amount. If you fail to notify your bank or the business in time, you could lose the extra amount taken from you.
Double Check Your Order
Finally, that exciting day when your purchase arrives. Make sure not to get too swept up in the moment, always check the merchandise sent to you. While many times you will receive exactly what you ordered, occasionally mistakes occur. This can include either missing items, incorrect items (ex. the size or color), or incorrect orders. If this occurs always contact the company and inform them of the issue. Similarly, if your package doesn’t arrive after the proper amount of time and you’ve checked the tracking number contact the proper personnel.
Learn more by visiting hornet.emporia.edu and clicking on the "Information Security" tile. Have a great fall semester!