Thursday, February 16, 2006

Security for the online seller.

Selling goods and products online for the most part is a very rewarding activity. The beginning seller can get a lot of joy out of finding sources for their hobbies, making some extra money, and meeting people who have common interest online. These are all benefits that can come from selling goods and services online.

But there are some difficulties as well. Like most things in life you have to take the good with the bad.

I'll cut to the chase and run down some of the problems that you will probably face as an online seller and briefly describe some best practices to deal with these problems.

1. It may be difficult to find information for solving problems. So I recommend that you read the security area of the web site that you sell your items on. All major auction sites have online documentation of the various security problems that sellers face and ways to solve these problems. Read these to become knowledgeable of problems and to help solve problems before they happen. If you are aware of the problems and you have an idea of a solution when the problem occurs, you will be ahead of the game.

2. On a similar note, some problems can be headed off before they become problems.

a. Writing a good description of your items is vital way to build buyer confidence. A confidant buyer will be less likely to cause you problems and will give you the benefit of the doubt when problems occur as they sometimes will.

b. Defining your policies also helps to avoid problems. And when problems do occur, you can point to your posted policy. This will dissipate many problems that you might encounter. Policy information can include information on your shipping policy. How do you ship items? What carrier do you use to make shipments? Do you have a return policy, this can help reassure hesitant shoppers.

c. Know the various buyer protection programs that are out there. Buyers have certain protections that are built into the method of payment that they use. Paypal and some credit cards allow charge backs and some of these options can be used by unscrupulous buyers to defraud sellers. Know the rules so that if you encounter a problem you will be in a better position to solve the problem.

3. Be aware of the online scams that are out there waiting to trip up the online seller. Phishers (those who send out fake emails with the intent to defraud), are targeting small online sellers. Because they know that small seller want as many buyers as possible, and unlike the larger retailers you will go to more extreme measures to make a sell.

The typical scam involves a phisher sending you an email that request that they buy a large quantity of your stock. Everyone wants more sells, right. But oh wait, they also need these items to be sent immediately. Why? Because they are buying for their sister, or brother who is getting married soon. And they want the gift they are sending to be a surprise. And did they mention that they also would like to include some cash. So would you include a money order, or travelers check or some other nonrefundable payment with the shipment.

Well you are a seller who wants to please the customer, right? And you give great customer service, right? Well at this point you want to stop and think.

Be leery of any buyer that;

a. request any of your personal information.
b. demands that you rush through their order. (this stops you from thinking it through)
c. ask that you include some other form of payment.
d. states that they are buying for someone else.
e. has any out of the normal request that requires you to jump through a lot of hoops.

I am not saying that all customers that have a special request are scammers, but stop and think about each one and think about what will happen if the deal goes bad. Will you loose any money or some of your products in the deal.

A few suggested books

Computer Security Basics by G.T. Gangemi & Deborah Russell

Computer Security: Art and Science by Matthew Bishop

Computer Security by Dieter Gollmann

Have You Locked the Castle Gate? : Home and Small Business
Computer Security
by Brian Shea

Computer Security; Privacy for Dummiesby Dewberry & Davis

Tip of the Day - Arm yourself with knowledge. Read as much as you can about security to protect your online selling activities.

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