Safe Online Purchase
According to the USA Trade Association, sales of online stores will rise to 95.7 billion dollar in 2021 (+17 percent on the previous year). These figures are not surprising, as online shopping has long been part of many consumers' everyday lives. According to the USA Federal Criminal Police Office, however, the number of registered online crimes is alarmingly high at 657,486 in 2021 and continues to rise with an increase of 12 percent over the previous year.
In this article, you will learn which payment methods you can use to order safely on the Internet and how to recognize a reputable online store.
Choosing the right payment method
When buying online, there is usually a wide range of payment options to choose from. The most common are credit card, advance payment and payment service providers such as Paypal. Kreditkarte.org has divided the most common payment options into the categories "Highest security", "High security" and "Low security":
Purchase on account:
The most secure payment option on the Internet is purchase on account. You pay for the ordered goods only after they have been delivered and checked by you. Also, you do not have to provide sensitive bank information when ordering. If a merchant does not deliver the goods, you will not suffer any damage. Often, purchase on account is only available for selection after the second order or you have to agree to a credit check.
Since 2012, it has been possible to pay for products ordered online in cash. This is made possible by the payment service provider Barzahlen.de. After placing your order, you receive either a payment slip to print out or an SMS with payment information. With these documents, you visit a payment point (e.g. DM, Real, Telekom) and pay for your online order at the checkout. The payment is forwarded in real time to the online store, which then sends your order to your home.
With this method, you do not have to provide any sensitive banking information when placing your order online. If there are problems with a merchant, Barzahlen.de mediates between the parties. If no delivery is made despite payment, Barzahlen.de refunds the purchase amount.
The purchase on account and the cash payment offer highest security. You do not have to transmit any sensitive bank data online!
Purchasing by direct debit or direct debit is convenient, but requires you to submit personal banking information to the merchant. After the order is placed, the purchase amount is collected from the specified account and the goods are shipped. If there are problems with the order, you can reverse the debit from the current account within eight weeks (new SEPA procedure) without giving reasons. If an unauthorized debit is made, a chargeback is even possible up to 13 months.
Online shopping by credit card is very popular and comparatively easy. When ordering, you specify the number, the validity period and the issuer of the card. In addition, you must enter the three-digit security code printed on the back of the credit card. The purchase amount will be collected immediately and the goods will be shipped promptly. In case of problems, you can have the amount charged back. As with payment by direct debit, you must also disclose critical data here and should check carefully to whom you disclose this data.
Paypal & Co:
Payment service providers such as Paypal, Click&Buy or Sofortüberweisung act as an independent party between you and the merchant. After shopping, you are redirected to Paypal, for example, and make the payment to the merchant on this platform. This provides security, as you only have to enter your bank details once and in a central location. On the other hand, hackers regularly try to obtain login data. Therefore, be sure to choose secure access data! In case of problems, the platforms mediate between you and the merchant.
If you order online by prepayment, you take a high risk. After transferring the invoice amount, the merchant is supposed to ship the goods to you. If he does not fulfill this task, you cannot initiate a chargeback as you can with direct debit. You should choose prepayment only for stores you know. Usually, at least one alternative payment option is offered.
Cash on delivery:
Often, payment by cash on delivery is considered secure, since payment is only made to the delivery service upon delivery to the door. In practice, this method is anything but secure, since at the time of payment you do not yet know what is actually in the package and what condition the products are in. Other payment methods are preferable and usually cheaper.
Checklist: How to recognize a reputable online store
With the following checklist you can easily check whether an online store is reputable or you should better choose another merchant for your order.
Check master data: Every online store must have an imprint. Here you will find important contact details of the merchant. Check whether a correct address and not just a P.O. box is given. Is a telephone number stored? Call this as a test. If it is a legal entity (GmbH, AG) you can check on Unternehmensregister.de whether the company actually exists.
Question prices: Be skeptical if the prices are significantly lower than in other stores. If the new iPhone costs only 300 dollar instead of 500 dolla, your alarm bells should go off.
Question search engines: In a search engine such as Google, enter the name of the online store in combination with terms such as "problems", "experiences" or "forum". If there were difficulties with the store in the past, you will quickly find corresponding entries.
Encrypted connection: When ordering, look for an encrypted connection, you can see this in the address bar of your browser. An unencrypted connection starts with http:// - an encrypted connection with https://. Note: It is sufficient if the payment and ordering process is encrypted, as sensitive data is only transmitted there.
Pay attention to seals of approval: Look out for well-known test and quality seals. These are often located at the top or bottom of a store. The following seals of approval are recommended by Initiative D21.