With just a click of the mouse, shoppers can buy nearly any product online — from groceries to cars, from insurance policies to home loans. The world of electronic commerce, also known as e-commerce, enables consumers to shop at thousands of online stores and pay for their purchases without leaving the comfort of home.
For many, the Internet has taken the place of Saturday afternoon window shopping at the mall. Consumers expect merchants to not only make their products available on the Web, but to make payments a simple and secure process. However, the same things can go wrong shopping in cyberspace as in the real world. Sometimes it is simply a case of a computer glitch or poor customer service. Other times, shoppers are cheated by clever scam artists.
An April 2004 survey by AC Nielsen found that the top security concerns of America’s online shoppers were:
- Not receiving the items purchased, or receiving items different from what was described.
- Email addresses being sold to third parties.
- Fears about personal or financial information being stolen.
- E-mail scans known as “phishing” or “spoofing” in which consumers receive messages from dishonest sources disguised as messages from trusted retailers or financial institutions. https://www.paypal.com/en_US/pdf/PayPal_Safety.pdf
Recent surveys have found that the number of people who shop online around the globe is increasing dramatically. (Trends in Online Shopping: A Global Nielsen Consumer Report (Feb. 2008), www2.acnielsen.com/reports/documents/GlobalOnlineShoppingReportFeb08.pdf
Just as shoppers should take measures to protect themselves in brick-and-mortar stores — such as protecting their PIN numbers when checking out and not leaving purses unattended — online shoppers also need to take sensible precautions. This guide offers advice on how to make your online shopping experiences enjoyable and safe.