What to Know When Making Online Purchases

With the increasing popularity of online purchasing, how do you really know your information is protected?  In other words, are you purchasing from a secure site?

First of all, what is a secure site?  A secure connection with a website is an encrypted exchange of information between the site you are visiting and the browser you are using.  The information you type in, in a secure connection, is encrypted into an unreadable format that only the website can decipher.  Hence, your information like credit card number, address, etc., cannot be stolen.

How is this done?  Encryption is done through a website certificate.  To find out if a site has a certificate, there are two things you can look for.   Once you are on the actual page of the site where you enter your credit card information, simply look for a yellow padlock on the side of your browser.  F.Y.I…  Many sites have a green padlock.  In either case, the padlock should be in the locked position.

Another way to tell if your site is secure is to look at the actual URL.  It should begin with “HTTPS” rather than the standard “HTTP”.  The “S” stands for … wait for it … SECURE.

If the site you are visiting has these two items, it will also have a certificate.  Double click on the yellow/green padlock and it will show you information such as who the certificate is issued to, who it was issued by and when it expires.

For safety’s sake, if you ever get a warning regarding the certificate and you just have to make that purchase, place the order over the phone the old-fashioned way.  Happy shopping!