The Risks of E-Commerce

Although many benefits come with shopping online, several risks must be taken as well, including privacy, making returns, extra fees and determining the reputation of the merchants.

Microsoft's Privacy Policy Privacy issues are the leading cause of apprehension when shopping online. Consumers are weary of giving out their personal information, especially credit card numbers. Consumers fear that would-be thieves might intercept their credit card numbers off the Internet. Shopper's anxiety also stems from the excessive emails received after companies use their personal information for targeted advertising. Most companies have privacy policies that tell exactly how the given information will be used, but not all companies have policies that protect consumers. Before giving personal information, customers should always make sure that the site is secure and that the information provided will be used in an ethical manner.
Returning an item purchased online can sometimes be a difficult task. Before making any purchase online, shoppers should be aware of the return policy. This is especially necessary if the item arrives damaged or doesn't arrive at all. In most cases the policy is clearly defined, but care should be taken when ordering from overseas. Foreign policies differ and consumers can be left with few alternatives if unsatisfied with the product.
In some instances, extra fees may be added to the listed price of products shown on web pages. These fees may include taxes and duties if shipped from overseas, or even higher shipping charges for fragile, time sensitive or perishable items. While the costs are usually listed on the site, additional fees may be billed to consumers without notice.
As with real stores, some e-merchants have less than desirable reputations. No matter the market, there will always be people that scam others. Before making any purchase online, consumers should always attempt to verify the reputability of the merchant. Shoppers may fall victim to identity fraud, lose their money or have their credit card numbers misused, as discussed under privacy.

Despite all of these risks, e-commerce still offers many benefits with high safety precautions in place. However, care must always be taken to ensure that e-commerce doesn't end in disaster.