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How to Spot a Trustworthy Ecommerce Site

October 29, 2009

The old saying “first impressions last “is an interesting concept when applied to ecommerce sites. In fact, first impressions should often be ignored as it’s the undercover things that make a site trustworthy, not its design.

The first thing to look for is payment security. No ecommerce merchant should be storing your card details without PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) certification. Check that the site uses a reputable third party such as PayPal to process card payments.

Also be wary of retail sites that force you to create an account and keep your payment methods online. This may be hugely convenient of you are a regular visitor but you are trusting valuable card information with the merchant.

Don’t be fooled by the presence of a closed gold padlock (SSL certificate) as this can be faked. The good news is that your browser should warn you if the page uses an invalid certificate.

Modern browsers will also let you know you are visiting a genuine site by displaying a coloured https:// in the URL bar. This new technology is called EV (Extended Validation) SSL and is only issued to trusted sites that have already gone through an extensive validation process. Visit PayPal.com using a modern browser to see this in action.

Many people believe the presence of site authentication logos like ‘Internet Shopping Is Safe’ (ISIS) indicate a safe site, but logos alone aren’t a guarantee of safety as they can be expired, so don’t rely on them. However, it’s often a good indicator that the merchant takes security seriously.

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