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Testing out a website that you’re not sure of – some top tips

Earlier this week I wrote a post, Websites you can trust – what to watch out for?, about things to check out on a new website before dealing with them, and particularly before handing over any personal details.

While there were a lot of don’ts in the tips, there are a couple of things you could do if you’re still not 100% sure, but you’re keen on making a purchase from a website.

Here are a couple of things you could do – but remember, you’re taking a risk one way or the other – to reduce your potential exposure. It’s your call in the end.

If you’ve checked out all the suggestions I provided in my original post, but you’re still going to proceed, here are a few things you can do until you make sure the site is fully legitimate.

1.    Use different a e-mail addresses

You could set up a new free e-mail address to use with this website. Using this new e-mail address on only this site will make it easier to identify if they’ve sold your e-mail to other companies if you suddenly start getting spam.

2.    Provide the minimum amount of information

When completing forms where they’re gathering information, only fill in those with the red * which normally is the minimum they require. There’s no need to fill in any details that aren’t compulsory.

3.    Make sure your password is unique and different

Just in case you’re someone who uses the same password everywhere, when signing up to a site you’re not fully sure of, make sure you use a different password here. Just in case.

But of course, you should really change your passwords to make sure they’re different everywhere.

4.    Use a special credit card

My top tips above suggest that you have a special credit card to use when shopping online. This should have a low limit so that if it is compromised, that you’re only exposing yourself to a small loss (though your card provider should cover you anyway).

5.    Make only a small purchase in the beginning

If the company is unfamiliar or you’re still a little unsure, you could begin your relationship with them by submitting a small purchase to confirm that they can be trusted. If everything goes well, you get your product, and you’re happy with the service and security, then you could look at bigger orders.

6.    Give false details

Say you’re being asked for details that you know are unnecessary, but you can’t continue without providing it, make something up to fill the blanks and progress. If the information is stored on your profile and you eventually come to trust the site, you can always go in and update it later – but if it’s really unnecessary, then there’s no need.

I said in my original post that if there is ever any doubt in your mind, then stop and just cancel your actions. If you’re going ahead with the steps above on the basis of checking things out, remember that you’re taking a risk and just in case, be prepared for the consequences.

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