Check for safety seals when shopping online

LOS ANGELES Many shoppers are worried about online security. Experts recommended looking for the safety seals on the Web site. But do you know what they are, or what they mean?

Sandie Glass loves to surf the Web for holiday bargains. When she finds a winner, she scans the site for signs that it's legitimate.

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

Like many consumers, Glass looks for official looking seals, or trustmarks, that make her feel safer with shopping online. Phil Hochmuth with the Yankee Group says with so many different trustmarks out there, it's easy for shoppers to get confused.

"Based on our research, consumers are largely unaware of what the seals mean. There's a common misperception that the Web seal is a cover-all security guarantee," said Hochmuth.

Each trustmark company has its own set of guidelines that must be followed in order for a site to display its seal.

VeriSign encrypts and protects your online transactions, which includes all personally identifiable information. Look for the VeriSign Secured seal 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 Web site for malicious code, vulnerabilities and other security holes which may endanger visitors to the Web site," said Hochmuth.

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

"That the business has a permanent physical residence. That it's been in business for a certain number of years," explained Hochmuth.

The TRUSTe seal means a site's privacy policy has been scrutinized.

"The Web site owner is required to post a privacy policy on its Web site which outlines exactly what that Web site will do with the end user's information, what its policies are on sharing or selling information to third parties," said Hochmuth.

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

It's important to remember that no one seal covers everything, so shop on reputable sites, make sure your virus software is up to date, and look at customer reviews.

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