Online Sales: Protect Yourself

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Online Sales Protect Yourself Intellectual Property Intellectual Property

Online Sales: Protect Yourself

Online shopping is known for its simplicity and variety, but buyer beware: internet shopping can be risky. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to buy or sell online.
Sellers: Make It Legal, Make It Foolproof
If you’re looking to sell your wares online, congratulations! You’ve chosen a quick, easy and effective way to reach customers around the world. But watch out: e-commerce has its pitfalls. First, it is your responsibility to make sure your product can legally be sold to your target markets. For example, state and federal laws limit the sale of some products, such as food and alcoholic beverages, to other states or countries. In addition, the sale of weapons and firearms is strictly regulated. It might seem like a no-brainer, but knowing whether you’re allowed to sell is the first step in a successful online transaction.
The next step: security, security, security. Chargebacks (disputed sales, usually involving a customer withdrawing their transaction via credit card) can be avoided by following some simple sales steps. Make sure your site has a comprehensive and fair privacy policy so that prospective buyers feel their information is safe. Secure-socket layer (SSL) technology encrypts credit card and sensitive personal information to protect customers’ identities and is a must when you sell online. Once you’ve protected your customers’ interests, protect your own: make sure your system has built-in IP address verification and customer-input verification codes. A bit of foresight and a lot of exact record-keeping will reduce the chance of chargebacks and allow you to make sure your customers come back for more.
Buyers: Beware! Internet Commerce Security Is Key
If you’ve found the perfect product online, pause before initiating your e-commerce transaction. A bit of common sense can protect your identity and your hard-earned money. There are several red flags you should look for when shopping online. These include businesses that have no reputation or contact information, companies with scanty or unfair privacy and return policies, and Web sites that don’t go to great lengths to protect your precious personal information. Insist on SSL technology when you shop online – companies like Verisign provide such services and have great conflict-resolution procedures for when transactions go bad.
Another red flag: websites that ask for too much information, like Social Security numbers or bank account information in addition to your credit card number. Speaking of credit cards, it’s a great idea to use them during online shopping whenever possible. The transaction will be easy to track and is also subject to the Fair Credit Billing Act and/or purchase protections from your bank or lender. Make sure to save all receipts in case there’s a dispute. Record-keeping is key when it comes to internet commerce!
If you feel you’ve been the victim of internet fraud or that a site has unfair or unprofessional business practices, don’t waste any time before contacting consumer groups, such as the Better Business Bureau, or local and federal law enforcement. Make sure you’ve documented your claim – and read all the fine print. Knowledge is power when it comes to buying online. Pay attention to detail, and online shopping will be a breeze.

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