Added by on 2012-10-02

Security and privacy are at the top of the list when it comes to customer concerns about going online and using their credit cards. Of course, it is up to you to address these concerns. The way to do this is to know what are your customer concerns and why they hold these concerns.

It could be that they are ill-informed about particular areas of Internet security. Therefore, they will need to be told about your site’s security and privacy policies. There is no room for customer uncertainty when it comes to online shopping. There is also no excuse for being poorly prepared on the security issue, as there is a variety of security software options available to meet your site’s requirements.

When it comes to privacy, customers want to know how the information they give you will be used. Many customers have concerns that their personal information will be sold to marketing companies and they will become victims of “spamming” (electronic junk-mail). Others are concerned their personal details may be used in unscrupulous ways, especially when it comes to credit card fraud.

As the online retailer, it is up to you to make the online shopping environment secure – your bottom line depends on it.

Security concerns

A major concern for the online community, especially consumers who use their credit cards online, is the issue of security. Unfortunately, most people are not aware that their credit card details are at greater risk when used at a restaurant or offline store than using them online.

It is, therefore, important to make sure customers are comfortable when divulging credit card details. The threats consumers and e-commerce operators are faced with when it comes to secure online financial transactions include:

Unauthorised access whereby someone can access, or falsely use a computer network to steal information.

Information (such as the user name or dollar amount) being changed while data is being exchanged en route.

Confidential information being monitored or “listened” to while being exchanged. This is known as monitoring.

A practice known as “spoofing” which occurs when your Web site is copied and its maker can steal information and customers.
To combat these problems, there is a variety of security software available. Make sure your customers are aware your Web site is fully secure and every possible measure has been put into place to protect their personal and financial details.

This can be done via a link on your site to a statement about your security and what measures are in place. Customers will have more confidence in shopping at a site which takes security seriously, especially when dealing with online financial transactions. Messages carrying details such as credit cards numbers are usually encrypted or “scrambled” to protect the contents.

One such encryption method is through the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) system. This can be added to your site, allowing data to be encrypted and upon return, decrypted to protect the information.

SSL is the standard protocol for secure, Web-based communications. If you are working through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) it would be wise to find out what basic security measures they have in place.

Customer privacy

Privacy is also a big issue when it comes to providing confidential information over the Internet. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned over the possible misuse of this information if it falls into the wrong hands.

They are also concerned over the level of unsolicited information that may come their way. To help alleviate any fears, and to make your customers feel more comfortable, you should clearly state your privacy policy. This will also help foster customer loyalty.

A basic privacy policy should contain:

A commitment to your customers that the information they supply is stored securely.

Details of how you handle privacy issues. You should state what you intend to do with that person’s details.

Whether you intend to sell or distribute user information to any other company.
There are a number of Web-based organisations, which will check your privacy guarantees and literally give you a seal of approval. You can then put this “seal” on your Web site, thus giving customers confidence when divulging information and buying online.

TRUSTe seal of approval

If you are a little unsure on how to develop your privacy statement, a good site to visit to get a few tips is the TRUSTe site.

TRUSTe runs a privacy seal program, which acts as a guarantee that the business, which has the seal, will protect personal customer information. The TRUSTe program is designed to review a Web site’s privacy statements and give it a TRUSTe “seal of approval”.

If a site carries a privacy seal, it means the customer can be assured that the Web site will disclose:

What personal information is being gathered about them

How the information will be used

Whom the information will be shared with, if anyone

The choices available to the customers regarding how collected information is used

What safeguards are in place to protect customer information from loss, misuse or alteration

How customers can update or correct inaccuracies in their information.

Web sites displaying the TRUSTe trademark also agree to comply with TRUSTe oversight and complaint resolution procedures. These types of seals are important as they give customers added reassurance that the site is “safe” and their privacy is protected.

Before TRUSTe will issue a “trustmark” to your site, you must:

Create a privacy statement

Complete the paperwork

Wait for the application processing department to contact you.

Naturally, apply online. There is also a licensing fee involved which is based on your company’s total annual revenue. We also recommend consulting with either your Web hosting company or with a computer security expert about your site’s security.

Payment options

Making it easy for customers to pay is a major advantage to your online business. When given a choice of payment options, most customers will choose to pay by credit card.

However, do not forget those remaining customers who may not have a credit card or who have concerns about using their credit cards on the Internet.

There are a number of contingencies that can be put in place:

Offering customers the ability to either fax credit card details or call your offline store

The ability to ask for a customer service representative or operator to call back to take the credit card details over the phone

Sending a cheque through the mail

Paying via your “bricks and mortar” premises.
While the credit card is one of the most popular methods of online payments, there are also a number of other options available. These include:

Smartcard. This allows information to be stored on a plastic card similar to a credit card. It also stores personal details as well as electronic funds.

ECash. This is an alternative to buying online with credit cards. An account is established with a bank which provides the software to enable withdrawals to take place. When the customer is going to buy he/she clicks on “eCash” and settles the account.

PayPal. This is similar to eCash. It is an electronic transfer of funds. A person who wants to make a payment opens an account by providing their credit card details. To make the payment, the customer clicks on the payment option and provides the details, including an e-mail address of the company which is receiving the payment.



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