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Secure shopping online: what to watch out for

23 November 2018

Everyone shops online. It is easy, you usually get your purchases delivered to your own home the next day, and returns are often free of charge. But not all web shops are the same. Here are 5 points you should really keep in mind.

Is the domain name correct?

Does the web address of the shop correspond to the name? Is the spelling correct and is there nothing added? Websites that sell counterfeit goods that are phishing for your personal details often resemble reliable and well known web shops. But their web address will often out them.

Is the security correct?

When you want to create an account, log in on an existing account, or pay in a reliable web shop, the web address will begin with https://. This means that the transaction is secure and protected against prying eyes. The name of web shops which are particularly keen on security is often visible in green to the left of https://.

Is your password secure?

When you create your account, you must choose a user name and password. People often use the same password for all their Internet services.  This is not very secure. Websites are hacked now and then, and the hackers often find out the passwords of the users.  It is better to choose a new and strong password for every internet service. A strong password is at least 8 characters long and consists of upper and lower case letters, one or more figures and punctuation marks.  It is also important to keep your password secret. Never disclose your password via telephone or e-mail.

Does the entire site seem legitimate?

The best online security guard is you.  Is a Gucci or Hermes handbag being sold for a song?  Are there spelling errors or sentences that are virtually incomprehensible?  Sections of text in a foreign language?  All these are indications that something is fishy.  So you must  keep an eye out for them. Do you have any doubts that the web shop is safe?  Stop the transaction and contact the shop.  

Does the shop have certification?

Various independent organisations issue certificates to secure web shops.  In Belgium and Luxembourg, this is done by BeCommerce (www.becommerce.be) and in the Netherlands by the Stichting Thuiswinkel Waarborg [Home Shopping Guarantee Foundation] (https://www.thuiswinkel.org/). When the web shop is inspected by one of these organisations, it can post the logo of that organisation on his home page. You can search on the website of BeCommerce and the Stichting Thuiswinkel Waarborg whether the web shop is a member of those organisations.

More information?

There are various authorities working on enhancing security on the Internet in Belgium. If you want more information, you can always go to our website for the Internet security file or to the website of CERT, the Belgian public service for cyber security. The website www.safeinternetbanking.be, a cooperative of all Belgian banks, provides useful tips on online shopping.

With this article we express our support to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 16: peace, justice and strong institutions.