Online shoppers display greater confidence

A survey conducted by eBay found that as consumer confidence improves, criminals are devising ever trickier methods to steal information
Written by Angus Kidman, Contributor

Consumers are displaying greater confidence in online shopping, but expect more information on individual sites showing them how to protect themselves from Internet scams, a study commissioned in Australia by online auctioneer eBay has found.

According to the survey of 1,600 Australians, carried out by Sweeney Research in May, 76 percent of consumers believe online shopping is becoming safer. In a similar study conducted 18 months ago, that figure was 66 percent. Shoppers also appear to be more cautious, with 61 percent saying they were taking greater care when shopping online.

However, prospective online buyers appear to believe the onus for protecting them rests firmly with the providers of shopping sites. According to the survey, 58 percent believe more should be done to educate shoppers on safe practices, and 70 percent source information on safe practices directly from shopping Web sites.

eBay Australia trust and security director, Alastair MacGibbon, who has long maintained that most online frauds have counterparts in the offline world — said that the study confirmed people increasingly understood how to avoid problems in online shopping. "Statistically, the likelihood of something bad happening is really remote," he said.

However, as consumers begin following sensible basic safety practices such as using secure payment systems, regularly changing their passwords and keeping their systems patched, criminals continue to devise new methods to steal identity information, he noted. In recent months, eBay and PayPal have seen a number of phishing emails that specifically target the local eBay site, MacGibbon said, though these are still outnumbered by generic phishing mails using the US eBay branding.

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