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Old 24-05-2011, 11:40 PM
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Default Shopping Safely Online

With more industries offering their products and services online, the internet has more to offer than ever before. But with the good, comes the bad, it is also very easy for bogus companies to set up a similar operation and offer high value goods at low prices.

Sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The goods are paid for but never arrive. So how can I tell if the site I am looking at is genuine or otherwise?

A good place to start is the home page. If you click onto any of the big High Street stores websites, you will 'generally' be greeted with a busy page full of wonderful offers, new products and of course, sign up offers for newsletters.

But behind this glitz, look for some great safety (and indeed confidence boosting) features in no particular order of importance...

1. A direct telephone number. Making sure that the contact number is a landline as opposed to a mobile. If you see a mobile number used as a contact point for out of office hours, fine, if it is the only number available then be wary.
2. Postal address or indeed store location. PO Boxes are great but can you return your item if it is faulty, damaged or indeed mis-advertised?
3. Secure credit card capturing? When you add any item to your basket and proceed to checkout and are ready to enter your card details, do you see the magical GOLDEN PADLOCK at the bottom right of your screen? No, then enter nothing. Your card details are probably visible to the whole internet (not that anyone is looking but in truth, they can be intercepted easily)
4. Professional body recognition or authority. Are they a member of a professional body that you have heard of (eg ABTA for holidays, ISIS for retail)? If there is a logo on the site, is it clickable? If yes, then check it out, it should confirm the site you are on and the retailers details. If no, approach with caution, anyone can add an image to a site!
5. Do they have a privacy policy and trading terms statement? Very important pages, namely for the fact that a) they will tell you what they will (and won't) do with your information once captured and b) what will happen if anything goes wrong.
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