Caroline Arbour | Journalist
Transactions made on a secure site aren’t necessarily secure, so it’s essential that you know how to recognize legitimate sites when buying online.
Jean-François Tessier, a senior cyber protection advisor at Desjardins, has 3 good tips to keep you from being a victim of fraud.
1. Look for comments and references
There’s really no way to know whether or not a site is secure just by looking at it. The most important thing to consider is trustworthiness.
- Is it a well-known brand or provider?
- Has someone you know already used the site?
- Are there any comments from other customers?
… there are no comments or references from other customers or no one you know is familiar with the site.
… an offer looks too good to be true.
… The site asks for your personal information that has nothing to do with the transaction, like your date of birth.
Some tools estimate the number of people who’ve used a website so you can determine its legitimacy. But you should know that it’s easy for scam artists to falsify data with fake visits. These tools aren’t foolproof.
2. Look for visual indicators
2 things will indicate that a site has encrypted browsing:
- “https” (not “http”) in the URL
- A small lock symbol at the beginning of the web address in your browser’s address bar
A secure site encrypts communication between the server and the browser, so a third party that intercepts it can’t decipher the content of the transaction. It will be unreadable.
These 2 indicators aren’t a sure-fire way to tell if a website is secure, because scam artists can easily make their own sites secure.
3. Choose the right payment method
When making online purchases, it’s always better to use a third-party payment provider (e.g., PayPal) or a credit card, which is less risky than providing your banking information.
Most credit card companies offer fraud protection.
Even though the risk of fraud is low, it’s really important to report it if you’ve experienced it yourself or know someone who’s been a victim. The faster the fraud is reported, the faster the authorities can act and the sooner the fake website can be taken down,” says Tessier.