Tobias Bumm/ December 2, 2019/ Uncategorized

Christmas is around the corner – like every year it is here too fast and comes with the problem: where can I get the right gifts as easy as possible? Heading to the mall after work and dealing with rush hour? Or torture your way through overcrowded stores on Saturday? Not a good idea. The alternative is online shopping. A few clicks and the gifts are already in the shopping cart. Actually, quite simple, if there were no security concerns. Only one out of every five Internet users considers their data to be sufficiently protected on the Internet, and 67 percent state that they withhold certain Internet activities for security reasons. That’s right. There is a lot to consider to make Christmas joyful.

Is my retailer legitimate?

The alpha and omega of online shopping – a legitimate online shop. But how can I be sure to have found one and not to fall for a fake shop. In addition to widely recognized e-commerce trustmarks such as ‘Trusted Shops’, information on the retailer’s website can be used to verify the shop. Usually a look at the legal notice is enough. Trusted retailers will provide complete contact information including address and phone number. In addition, the business register number, VAT identification number as well as the general terms and the data privacy information should be available. Also, the customer must be able to retrieve information about cancellation, return and the purchase price refund before hitting the buy button. Fake shops can often be recognized by the fact that many spelling errors appear in the descriptions and the products are offered at extremely low prices. Customer reviews also help to get an accurate picture of online retailer.

Checkout – S(ec)ure!?

Proceed to checkout. Sure. But secure and fair, please! Germany for example has its Button-Solution since 2012. Here, certain phrases like ‘Commit to Buy’ must be used to indicate that placing the order entails an obligation to pay. But how? Payment options often include credit card, debit card, bank transfer, Online-Banking-ePayments (OBeP), by invoice or payment services like PayPal. For the buyer, the payment by invoice is the most secure. By receiving the goods, they can be inspected for defects and, if necessary, returned without risking sensitive data and spending money. Unfortunately, this payment option is not always available. If other payment methods are chosen, it is important to ensure that they are sent encrypted. Sometimes messages will show indicating a secure connection. Additionally, in case of an encrypted data connection you will find “s” after the letters “http” or the symbol of a closed padlock appears in the address bar. Scammers often try to gain passwords, credit card or account information with fake emails (“phishing emails”) that simulate online banking issues. The sender of these e-mails should therefore be carefully checked and links should never be clicked in these e-mails!

European Directive on Payment Services

Since September of this year, online payments in the EU have become more secure through the EU Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2). Customers using online shopping have to authenticate their payment using two different factors, so-called “two-factor authentication” or “strong customer authentication”. When paying by card, credit card companies have introduced a version of the 3-D Secure procedure that complies with the PSD2 rules. In any case, customers are much better protected, since banks and online shops are obligated to implement new security measures. Without strong customer authentication, they are held responsible for fraudulent transactions, such as stolen card purchases. Under the new directive, online shops cannot charge any additional fees if customers choose to pay by credit card or bank transfer.

Obligations of online-shops and -platforms

Changes are necessary in online commerce, which, although laborious, strengthens customer confidence and ultimately leads to greater market success. New tax regulations have also come into force. Since January this year, operators of online platforms and electronic marketplaces have been responsible for the unclaimed sales taxes of their vendors. The aim of this requirement is that sellers are more rigorously checked by their platforms to comply with the tax liability. Failure to comply with the new regulations will result in high fines and closure of vendor accounts.

In terms of buyer protection and legitimate online trading a lot is changing – good prospects for relaxed gift purchases and a Merry Christmas with Santa and not the Grinch!


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