IntroductionEvery day many 1000s are using on-line shopping for the first time. While most sites are honest and industrious, there are some which aren't. Here are the things to look for to indicate a trustworthy website.
0871, 0872, 0873
These are charged at 11p to 15p per minute from BT landlines and 20p to 41p per minute from mobiles.
These may look like mobile numbers but they are used to divert calls to another number. They are regulated by OfCom and should not cost more than 10p per minute.
These should be avoided. Do not deal with any seller using these numbers. They are charged at 9p to £1.69 from a BT landline and 50p to £2.50 from a mobile.
These numbers are regulated by OfCom and should cost 5p per minute from a BT landline, but hey can be abused. Because they are not region specific you do not know where you are calling. There is no reason for a trusted business to use these numbers.
If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of the business and its associated phone number you could always call them to see if it is a genuine number and is answered by the business you called.
Security and PrivacyCheck that the website operates securely with your personal information. The site may have a SSL badge on it saying something like 'Secured by Comodo'. Don't always believe this - any site can put the badge on their site. To check whether the site is secured click on the Login or Checkout link and you should see the address of the site change from htttp//domain.com to https//domain.com and a padlock appear somewhere on the browser.
The site should also have a Privacy statement which should promise that they will not share your personal details with anyone except as required to conduct their business with you.
Secure PaymentThe safest way to pay for your goods or services is to use a secure on-line payment processor. The most widely used is PayPal which is very secure and gives you loads of protection should things go wrong. There are lots of other payment processors such as SagePay and Worldpay. All of these payment processors are very secure and safe.
Note: you do not have to have a PayPal account to pay through PayPal - you can use a debit/credit card on the PayPal payment interface.
Do not deal with a site that asks you to pay by phone or email. Some customers prefer to pay by phone. You should only really do this if you trust the company fully. If you pay on-line through a payment processor the company will not see your card details.
Site QualityGet a general feel for the website. be wary of websites with loads of flash animations, pop-ups and links taking you to places you didn't want to go to.
Look for poor grammar and spelling mistakes. All large sites will have errors in the spelling but these are usually typographical errors (typos). But if you come across 'there' for 'their' then beware.
TrustSearch the Internet for reviews or bad comments about the company. Also look for reviews left by (hopefully) genuine customers.
Look for membership of trade bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce. You can call the Chamber to check the status of the company.
Look at their blog, facebook page etc. to give an idea of how active they are.
Also ask your friends and family for their recommenendations.
By the way our website which sells burglar alarm and security equipment conforms to all the above guidelines.