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Trustmarks — How Trustworthy Are They?

Security and Privacy

Many people, when shopping online, will look at the sites they visit for signs they can be "trusted".

This can range from trustmarks (the logos that many eCommerce web shops place on their sites to show that they have passed security and privacy tests to reassure customers that it is safe to shop on their site); the padlock symbol in the URL ('http' becomes 'https') showing that data transmitted from the site is secure via Secure Socket Layer (SSL); contact page (how easy is it to contact a company), return information (is it clear how to return a faulty or unwanted item) and a privacy policy.

Econsultancy reported that a Cybersource survey found that 85% of UK online shoppers look for signs that the website they are thinking of buying from is secure, so clearly it makes sense to build trust with your site visitors?

How Trustworthy Are Trustmarks?

As mentioned above trustmarks are one way eCommerce site owners use to show their site is trustworthy. But  how relevant are trustmarks and can all trustmarks be trusted?

Just because a site has a trustmark logo, or what appears to be an "active" trustmark seal that can be verified by clicking on it — it DOESN'T necessarily mean the site has undergone any tests or that the seal(s) they are proudly displaying were issued to them. You can display trustmarks on sites simply by going to one of the many companies selling them and downloading an image or JavaScript code to put on your site e.g. Verisign, GeoTrust and Trustwave all allow you to download images and/or scripts to show trustmarks on your site.

We've also recently come across a website called Trust Mogul (www.trustmogul.net) which is selling a plugin that allows site owners to generate their own trustmarks. The site doesn't have to undergo or pass any tests to generate and display the seals, they simply have to install a plugin and activate it! Clearly cases like this and businesses that use these type of methods to "generate" trust may not be as trustworthy as they first appear!

The old addage is true, "Buyer Beware". When looking for signs that you can trust an eCommerce site it's vitally important to carry out due diligence - don't automatically place your trust in trustmarks!