http://www.digitaljournal.com/internet/helping-online-shoppers-enjoy-a-safer-buying-experience/article/385008

Helping online shoppers enjoy a safer buying experience Commissioned

Posted May 29, 2014 by Kay Mathews
The convenience of buying online is unquestioned, but safety concerns have arisen due to data breaches and other problems. Here's what you need to know.
A woman shopping online
A woman shopping online
Keith Williamson, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Savvy online shoppers looking for ways to address those concerns can now check out these multiple strategies and resources for staying safe when shopping online. This advice can save you hassle and protect your wallet.
For many consumers, the cyber-security failure at Target made them pause and wonder whether shopping online or in stores is safe. In December 2013, Target revealed a massive data breach in the U.S. The personal information, including credit/debit card details, of close to 110 million people were stolen, Forbes reports. However, in the aftermath of the data breach caused by hackers, Target worked on implementing new security enhancements, including the recent announcement that “its entire REDcard portfolio will incorporate the new MasterCard chip-and-PIN technology.”
While consumers rely on companies to invest in cyber-security, there are strategies that shoppers can employ to make online shopping more safe. For example, Kansas’s Attorney General offers a number of tips to help avoid problems when shopping online, including:
• Be wary of post office boxes and sellers in other countries. It may be difficult to find the seller to resolve a problem later.
• Give your credit card, debit card, or bank account number only if you’re using that account to pay, never to prove your identity.
• Keep a record of your purchase, including information given to you by seller such as product description, cancellation policy, and order confirmation numbers.
• Review your credit card bill carefully to ensure you were charged correctly for your purchases. Promptly report any errors to your credit card company.
The first tip assumes that buyers are in America and suggests that they be wary of “sellers in other countries.” Concern about safe online transactions is also present in other nations. For example, the Philippine Daily Inquirer offers tips to consumers for safe online transactions. Those tips include finding more information about the seller and the item you want to purchase, specifying and understanding payment terms, and being cautious when considering buying an item that is priced too low.
One company in the Philippines, CashCashPinoy, which started an eCommerce platform in 2010 and is already a top-three player in the e-commerce space in the country, understands online shoppers’ concerns and is aggressively working to reassure Filipino consumers.
According to a representative from CashCashPinoy, "One of our biggest challenges is to keep on reassuring the Filipino consumer about buying online. The fear not to receive their purchase, to have their credit card intel stolen, or to buy fake items... these are just a few wrong ideas that we have to fight on a daily basis. For example, we had to create some ‘in-house’ fraud process[es]. Even if 100% of our items are genuine, we also developed a unique authenticity guarantee with automatic refund if a customer has any doubts. We keep on innovating in terms of technology, process, and organisation. As a pioneer and a leading company, innovation is part of CashCashPinoy’s DNA."
TigerMine Research recently stated: “E-commerce is undeniably one of Southeast Asia’s hottest emerging tech sectors.” However, a number of hurdles exist, including low Internet/smartphone penetration and low banking and credit card penetration rates. TigerMine Research also points out that consumers in Southeast Asian countries are concerned about the security and reliability of e-commerce, particularly online fraud.
CashCashPinoy’s founder, Frederic Levy, has worked to overcome these hurdles since he started the e-commerce business. In a SMB World Asia report, Levy’s efforts are documented, including addressing consumers’ concerns about buying online. According to SMB World Asia, “Due to the lack of government policies and fraud protection policies for e-commerce in the country, CashCashPinoy had to develop its own strategy for reducing fraud. An anti-fraud team was set up and a human layer of authentication was incorporated when payments were made. Discussions were also held with banks to convince them of the value of upgrading their payment security measures, particularly for credit card payments.”
In addition, CashCashPinoy is a member of the Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines (DCOM) and Levy has served as the Vice President of the non-profit organization. One of the top goals of DCOM is “establishing standards and best practices for a friendly and secure digital commerce.
The BBC has its own take on shopping safely, and its suggestions both mirror and add to those previously offered. For example, BBC advises, “Be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true” and “Avoid making online purchases when you are in a public space” because there is no guarantee that the Wi-Fi network is secure.
Sellers of specific products want buyers to have more confidence when making online purchases. On My Trio Rings’ website, for example, there is an article titled “5 Myths About Shopping at Online Jewelry Stores.” The author lists the myths and then debunks them with data and common sense strategies. One of the myths is: You’ll get fake jewelry. As the author states, “If we sold fake jewelry, we couldn’t exist as a business. Our diamond rings come with certificates of authenticity and a one-year warranty. These can be used as proof of value and for insurance purposes. If you want to learn more about shopping with us, check our BBB score or our customer reviews.”
The article adds that online shoppers should consider how long the business has been active, whether or not a warranty is offered, the detail presented in photographs of products, the company’s Better Business Bureau score, customer reviews, and refund policies.
These tips apply across the board to online retailers of every form and fashion, whether it be an agency that books travel or a clothes retailer or Amazon, known as the biggest online store in the world. Smarter Travel notes that “some of the biggest online travel sellers—Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and such, are, in fact, travel agencies themselves, as are the many more specialized online travel sellers.” A quick Google search for customer reviews for any of these online travel sellers will reveal a long list of links.
Some buyers will want to seek customer reviews of online companies from people they know and trust. That is, in fact, one of the suggestions made by the BBC report. “If you're not familiar with the website, you could ask trusted friends, colleagues or family members for their opinion,” states BBC. “They might be able to offer you recommendations for alternatives.” It is not uncommon to see posts on Facebook in which people are asking real-life and Facebook friends for their thoughts about particular online companies.
By utilizing the tips listed above and clinking the links to sites with additional suggestions, online shoppers all around the world can have a safer buying experience.