Why should you shop on sites with trustmarks?

With the holiday season in full swing, this is a busy time for a lot of us with parties, gift buying and possibly even figuring out travel arrangements. With all there is to do, many of us will turn to online shopping to help beat the crowds, find deals and not have to worry about what time we shop.

While online shopping may be convenient, we also need to exercise some caution. After all, there are websites that are set up to sell fake or pirated digital downloads that can carry viruses or malware along with the product you thought you purchased legally. But there are also a lot of honest people who run legitimate e-commerce sites and care about the privacy and security of their customers.

So, how can you tell if a site is safe and protects your personal information? Well, one indicator of a safe site is one that displays a trustmark. A trustmark is a seal, logo, insignia or other icon that is usually placed on the site (often on the checkout/cart page) to show that the merchant is making an effort to protect you from cybercriminals and online fraudsters who might be out to distribute malware or collect your personal and financial data for the purposes of identity theft. There are a wide variety of trustmarks that indicate various levels of protection.

To better understand trustmarks, and how to use them, follow these simple tips:

  • Don’t just trust it; verify it! Trustmark providers usually provide a live link with their trust seal or icon that allows you to verify the trustmark and whether it is up to date. Don’t just look at the icon and assume that it is legitimate—click to make sure
  • Not all protection is the same. It’s best to conduct your own research on a trustmark to find out what it really means.  Look for regular audits, recent updates and other indications that it provides protection and security for your personal data.
  • Universal protection doesn’t exist. No single trustmark can guarantee protection against anything and everything. Be skeptical and do additional research if you encounter this claim.
  •  Details, details, details. Read the fine print on both the merchant’s and the trustmark provider’s sites. Prominent placement of a privacy policy might look secure, but what level of security and privacy does that policy really offer you?

Legitimate trustmarks can be helpful tools that let you connect with confidence when shopping online. Just remember to take the time to learn a little about the trustmarks you come across so you can make informed decisions about which sites to do business with in the future. For more tips on safe shopping this holiday season, read this blog or download McAfee’s eguide.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

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