Is it safe to order online?

How to shop online safely

Verena Ottmann

Who wouldn't want to grab an attractive special offer right away? But sometimes you get caught out with fraudsters. We'll tell you how you can check providers for their seriousness - despite all the basic data protection regulations.

EnlargeYou should pay attention to this when shopping online
© Photo: © Andrey Popov - Fotolia.com

If you often order online and not only use savvy shops like Amazon or Alternate, you will certainly have doubts every now and then whether everything is going well when it comes to particularly tempting bargains. And the fear of getting to a dubious shop is justified.

As a user, you had various options for obtaining background information on companies and dealers. Websites such as http://icann.org of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or www.denic.de/webwhois provided information about the shops they were looking for.

But since May 25, this is no longer possible, because the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) prohibits the transfer of personal data without the consent of the persons concerned. In the following we explain how you can be on the safe side when shopping online and what you can do despite the GDPR to find black sheep in online shopping.

Online shops:Expensive in the morning, cheap in the evening?

Basic rules of conduct: check information carefully

Nothing is more tempting than to strike at a great bargain: you really want to have a certain product, but you are put off by the price and would have to save on it for a long time - a cheaper model would actually do it too. But then you will find exactly the product you want at an unbeatable price. Understandably, the inhibition threshold to simply strike is very low.

Enlarge"Trusted Shops", "S @ fer-shopping" or "Certified Online Shop" are seals that can be trusted.

Nevertheless, you shouldn't pull out your wallet right away, but first check the offer for its legality. So first carry out a price comparison with well-known providers such as www.billiger.de or www.idealo.de to find out the current price of the product. If the difference to your bargain offer is suspiciously large, read the delivery conditions of the shop carefully. In the end, horrendous delivery costs are added to the low purchase price, and the offer only turns out to be a supposed bargain.

In addition, however, you should also examine the shop itself that offers the bargain. Basically, there are certain awards and certificates that guarantee you security when shopping: Trustworthy shops have, for example, a seal such as “Trusted Shops”, “S @ fer-shopping” or “Certified Online Shop” from the D21 initiative. More information is available at http://internet-guetesiegel.de or at www.label-online.de.

Here are the most important shop seals:

Trusted Shops: The chargeable seal of approval from the Cologne-based company of the same name is awarded to shops that meet certain criteria in terms of data protection and security, costs and price, payment, delivery, returns and customer service. Every purchase in the partner shops is automatically insured up to 100 euros, in the Plus tariff even up to 20,000 euros, and the reviews for shops and products are checked for authenticity. Extensions for Chrome and Firefox help identify "Trusted Shops". More information at www.trustedshops.de.

S @ fer shopping: This chargeable seal is issued by TÜV Süd. It is based on a strict three-stage test system, consisting of an on-site audit in which the organizational framework, data security, data protection and the processing of orders, inquiries and complaints are checked, an online expert evaluation of the shop in terms of page structure, navigation concept and Customer information and finally an online server check to determine the technical security status of the shop. Certified shops are checked at least once a year.

Verified online shop: Behind the paid certificate is the EHI Retail Institute, which stores shops based on 200 criteria - including with regard to the existing legal texts (terms and conditions, data protection declaration, etc.), the product presentation as well as the legally compliant use of tracking tools and the integration of social media and E. -Mail marketing - examined, but also checked the security of data transmission, user-friendliness and transparency of the shop. More on this at https://ehi-siegel.de.

If a shop does not have such an award, you can get a first impression of its seriousness by calling up the imprint. Has the operator given a commercial register number? Can you find your name and address? Then call up the service area and look at the guarantee and return or cancellation conditions. Is the information understandable and comprehensible? If so, the shop is probably trustworthy.

But not only security during the purchase process, but also data security during the ordering process should be taken into account when choosing a trustworthy shop. Does the shop use a secure communication protocol via https and does it also transmit your data encrypted to its server? You can recognize this by a lock symbol in the browser. However, you should be skeptical if you create a customer account and the provider asks for unnecessary information.

If you have finally decided to accept the offer of a shop, you should in any case exercise caution when choosing the payment method: For unknown shops, you should not choose prepayment if possible, because especially with prepayment there is the risk that you will transfer the money, but never saw the goods. Ordering on account is a better alternative here.

If the shop does not offer this, which often happens with first-time orders, you should definitely choose a payment method that offers you buyer protection, i.e. the classic bank transfer or direct debit, or payment by credit card or PayPal. Because with these means of payment you can have the amount paid back in case of doubt. But more on that later.