Unfortunately, not every ecommerce site is a safe one. There is an evergrowing amount of phishing schemes, data breaches, and fraudulent businesses hoping to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
Thankfully, there are signs you can look for to help determine if a site is safe to engage with and purchase from.
We suggest you look for the following elements on each site you visit. If a site is missing some or all of these, it does not necessarily mean it is fake or dangerous, but you should consider it as a red flag.
Secure sites often use an encryption method called Secure Socket Layers, or SSL, to protect data that they transmit. You can tell if a site is using SSL by checking the address bar in your browser. If they have SSL, most browsers will display a lock icon and the URL will contain HTTPS.
Always look for signs that there are real people behind the business. Check the site’s footer, about page, or contact us page for the business phone number, email address, and physical address.
Social proof is a great signal of a legitimate business because it shows that other people like yourself have interacted with it. Look for customer reviews of products and links to the business’s social media profiles throughout the site.
Trust signals such as badges and certifications that have been verified by a third-party company can help you determine if a site is safe and legitimate. TrustedSite and McAfee SECURE offer a suite of certifications for ecommerce sites from Certified Secure to Verified Business to Issue-Free Orders. Sites must earn these certifications by meeting a set of requirements for each. Look for TrustedSite and McAfee SECURE trustmarks throughout sites to see if they have earned these certifications. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) badge is another great one to look for on sites.