As I’ve already said, buying online isn’t as dangerous as it is sometimes made out to be, but that you still need to be aware of the risks. So, if you followed the previous advice on how to research a product and how to check up on an online retailer you are at a store, ready to buy.

If you’re happy with the site (or it’s the only place you can get an item, as happens), make sure when you’re submitting credit card details that you are using a secure page. It’s not ideal, but it’s generally OK for pages where you submit your ordinary details to be insecure, but your card details MUST be submitted securely. Likewise, NEVER send card details by email (that’s a general rule, not just for this).

How to tell if a page is secure or not.

  • Make sure you use a secure web site to enter credit card information. Look for a padlock symbol in the bottom right of the browser window and for the website address to begin with ‘https://’ (learn more about secure web pages).

    If you get a warning about a certificate be very cautious indeed. However, the padlock is not an absolute guarantee of safety and it says nothing about the business’s ethics.

  • Click on the padlock to check that the seller is who they say they are and that their certificate is current and registered to the right address.

  • Don’t be fooled by a padlock that appears on the web page itself. It’s easy for conmen to copy the image of a padlock. You need to look for one that is in the window frame of the browser itself.

Lastly, make sure you get a copy of your order (ideally with the company name and address on) with some sort of reference number. Don’t take the chance they’ll email it to you, use a PDF printer (such as doPDF) to save a copy or print a hard copy and keep it somewhere safe.