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Shop safely this Raksha Bandhan
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August 03, 2009

It is the Rakhi Season and you're longing to shop for your brother/sister only to realise that your time is being consumed by work and household chores. Thanks to the Internet and the range of online retail options, you can complete most of your Rakhi shopping at the click of a mouse.

While the perks of online shopping are obvious -- no traffic jams, jostling crowds, billing queues or parking nightmares -- taking some simple precautions will ensure you are shopping safely. Following are some basic safety tips for an enjoyable and secure online shopping experience.

1. Look for visual cues

When you shop online, always look for simple visual cues indicating that the site has been authenticated as legitimate and that the information you enter is protected. Visual cues such as the VeriSign logo or a green browser address bar indicate that the Web site's ownership has been verified and that the site is safe for online shopping and other transactions.

A Web address beginning with 'https' means that that there is an encrypted connection between your browser and the Web site's server, indicating that your communications are secure and cannot be intercepted.

2. Validate the vendor

Always buy from a reputed shopping site -- ones that you have heard of through friends and trusted acquaintances.

You should check online ratings and reviews from other customers and take red flags seriously.

You can then make an appropriate decision about the site and decide whether or not it is wise to shop there. Make sure that the Web site has an authentic and valid phone number and mailing address.

3.  Check for 'two-factor' authentication

As per the recent RBI guidelines, it is mandatory to have an additional authentication passcode for making an online transaction.

A growing number of sites are now beginning to accept a second form of user authentication that comes from physical devices such as a token, credit-card form factor, a USB drive, or even your cell phone. Two-factor authentication pairs something you know, such as a username and password, with something you have, a one-time password generated by this device in your possession.

The unique second password gives you the confidence to shop online without the risk of a hacker or thief gaining access to your accounts via stolen personal information. Although this is still relatively new in India, it will only be a matter of time before most Web sites offer it.

4. Pay attention to the order form

When you place your order, the site should not ask for more than your name, shipping address, billing address, credit card type and number or expiration date. Do not disclose your bank account details.

5. Compare the check out experience: Be vigilant

Whenever you commit to transactions over the Internet, it is important to make sure you can save and print a receipt or other confirmation of the transaction. This should have the date of the purchase along with the amount included on it. Beware of simple forms that offer no confirmation that you entered or ordered anything.

6. Safeguard your password

Don't ever select the 'remember my password' option and avoid saving your password on your PC; it is the first thing a hacker will target. Malware can be used to search your PC for stored passwords. Avoid using the same password on multiple sites or writing it down on a Post-It note or scrap of paper that can be easily intercepted. Finally, change all your passwords every two to three months.

7. Provide minimal personal information

Always check the Web site's privacy policy to make sure that your personal information will be safe. Try to limit the amount of personal information you give out while filling out online forms.

With these simple precautions, you can have a delightful shopping experience!

Courtesy: VeriSign India

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