Online security

29 November 2018

7 practical tips for shopping online safely

Onling shopping is bigger than ever in November!

With many discounts on offer during the Webshop Days (4, 5 and 6 November) and even bigger savings to be had on Black Friday as we go into the end-of-year festive season, online shopping seems set for a massive boost in November. Especially since online shops and payment services have become more secure in recent years. Nevertheless, there are still a few basic precautions you should take to ensure a safe online shopping experience. Read our tips for recognising fake websites and keeping your banking details safe from would-be cybercriminals.

Look for retailers' contact details

An e-mail address, postal address, VAT or business registration number... Check whether these contact details are provided and whether they are credible.

Check the company's reputation

It is easy to check the quality of online services through comments and ratings given by other internet users either on the site itself or on online forums.

Read the terms and conditions

The delivery terms, returns policy and/or customer service may not be the same as what you would expect at a physical shop. Before making a purchase, check whether:

  • the delivery and returns costs are clearly stated;
  • your card will be debited before or after delivery;
  • you can track your parcel's progress from purchase to delivery;
  • you have a warranty on delivered products;
  • you can return the product if it is defective or does not meet your expectations.
Read the privacy policy

Check whether the company is transparent about data processing. Most trustworthy online shops also have a quality mark such as the BeCommerce label, the Belgian association of mail order companies and online retailers.

Check whether the payment method is secure

A secure payment process is essential. The most common security protocol is Secure Sockets Layers (SSL), which establishes a secure connection when processing your payment by encrypting your payment data. Check that you are on a secure page before sending sensitive information like your bank account or credit card details. When you are on a secure page:

  • your browser should inform you (depending on your settings).
  • the website address in the address bar should change from http to https (s for secure).
  • The padlock icon should appear on your browser window.
Take out online purchase protection insurance

Most credit cards offer online purchase protection insurance. This insurance may be used if an item is not delivered or if the delivered item is damaged or does not match the description provided online.

Do not trust e-mails requesting your bank details

Be wary of potential e-mail fraud, otherwise known as phishing. Never send confidential banking information (such as your password, PIN, bank card or ID card number) by e-mail.


It is not always easy to recognise a fake website. Cybercriminals often take months laying the groundwork, creating a full website and even registering a rented office address with their local Chamber of Commerce, etc. Suspicions should be aroused, however, if you are asked to pay for your purchases via e-mail. If you receive an e-mail with such a payment request, do not click on it.Payments for online purchases are never completed via e-mail.