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Shopper Alert: Seal of Safety?

7:27 PM, Dec 4, 2009   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA)-- Sandie Glass loves to surf the web for holiday bargains.  When she finds a winner, she scans the site for signs that it's legit.

"I am leery when I go to a site that I've never purchased from before," says Glass.

This is why Glass looks for those official looking seals, or trustmarks.  They make her feel safer.  The trustmarks promise to protect everything from your financial transactions to your privacy.  Even customer satisfaction.

"Based on our research, consumers are largely unaware of what the seals mean. Theres a common misperception that the web seal is a cover all security guarantee," says Phil Hochmuth, a market research specialist with The Yankee Group. 

Each trustmark company has its own set o guidelines in order for a website to display its seal. 

Verisign guarantees that your financial transaction is 100% secure and encrypted. Verisign has a seal on websites or a green bar in the URL.

McAfee Secure protects the information surrounding your transaction, like passwords, usernames, and stored personal information.

"McAfee regularly scans the website for malicious code vulnerabilities," says Hochmuth. 

When you see the Better Business Bureau seal, it means a company conplies with a detailed list of requirements.

"You know that you can go to the Better Business Bureau to validate is this a real company. You can also complain to the Better Business Bureau about the company," says Linda Sherry of Consumer Action.

The experts recommend you always double click on any seal to make sure it is legitimately earned and not a stolen image.

"When you click on these seals you will get a box, or some information, that pops up," says Sherry.

Make sure the pop-up contains the name of the site you are shopping on and that the URL tracks back to the company that issued the seal, says Sherry.

Also, no one seal covers everything.  So, shop on reputable sites, make sure your virus software is up-to-dte and look at customer reviews. 

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