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Shopping Online Safely

Internet shopping is quite a controversial issue nowadays, as there’s a significant number of people who think that it poses danger, specially using credit cards.

While there exists some risk in using your credit card online (if your computer is compromised by a virus or malware, in which case your credit card number and information may end up in malicious hands), Internet shopping is safer than what most people think.

Most websites offer secure connections via the HTTPS protocol, which provides encryption, which makes your information safe from potential wrongdoers who may be sniffing the network, and secure identification, so you know you’re actually sending your data to the server you wanted. When connecting to a site with an invalid certificate, older browsers would present the user with a dialog box asking if they wanted to continue. Modern browsers display a warning across the entire window, and they also prominently display the site’s security information in the address bar. HTTP, the most commonly used protocol, is subject to what’s called eavesdropping attacks, which can let attackers gain access to website accounts and sensitive information. HTTPS is designed to withstand such attacks and is considered secure against them, as it relies on strong encryption algorithms that makes it virtually impossible for an eavesdropper to get hold of your data.

Another source of worry when buying things on the Internet besides payments is delivery, and the quality of the items bought. Most market sites offer a reputation system for its users. Take eBay as an example: after you buy something, you are able to rate the seller with a score from one to five stars, in four different categories: communication, shipping time, shipping and handling charges and item quality. You should always look for established sellers with good ratings. eBay makes this easy, as it’s possible to sort your search results by seller rating.

Using common sense might help you to avoid fishy sellers and offers as well. You should be suspicious if you find an expensive item being published with a ridiculously low price, because, unless it’s an auction, which sometimes start with low prices as to get customers interested, it’s most probably fake, or plainly a scam.

Rounding up, even while some people might be wary about shopping online, it’s not as dangerous as it may seem firsthand, and you should be fine just taking small precautions and reading the fine print.

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