16. October 2019 | Hintergrund

Secure online shopping: what constitutes a legitimate seal of approval

The idea is that seals of approval should make it possible to identify secure and reliable online shops. However, there are no binding legal regulations. In addition, some dubious retailers advertise with fictitious seals of approval or fake well-known awards. We show you how you can protect yourself against fraud.

What distinguishes the seal of approval?

Not all seals of approval are the same: the relevant certificates are issued by private organisations and are not subject to any legal regulations, so there are no binding or uniform criteria. As a result not every seal of approval offers consumers genuine value. You should therefore first check the website of the seal of approval provider to see what criteria are used to award the corresponding seal.

Check the authenticity

The most widespread and reliable seals of approval which are awarded by the non-profit “Initiative D21” include: “TÜV SÜD [email protected] Shopping”, “Trusted Shop”, “EHI Geprüfter Onlineshop” and “ips – internet privacy standards”. But be careful: regardless of whether it’s one of the reliably labelled seals or one you don’t know: always check its authenticity. Click on the seal in the shop. You should now be forwarded to the website of the seal of approval provider, and be able to view the certificate issued by name on the web shop.

If, on the other hand, the link leads to any random page or if the seal cannot be clicked on at all, it is very likely a fake. You can therefore also check on the provider’s website whether the shop is actually listed as a certified retailer. By the way, if you only want to shop in shops with a specific seal of approval, you can have a list of all certified shops displayed on the provider’s website.

No seal? Not always a problem

But what about shops that don’t carry a seal of approval? Small companies or start-ups in particular can often simply not afford certification at the beginning, because the award costs between a few hundred and even a thousand euros – per year. But you can research the experiences of other online shoppers in Internet forums in order to assess the trustworthiness of a shop.

A look at the legal notice of the web shop can also be informative. If only a mobile phone number or a P.O. Box number is provided, or if the legal notice is missing completely, you should be suspicious, because a legal notice is mandatory – at least in the case of online shops based in the EU. And in case of doubt: if you are uneasy about a shop you should listen to your gut feeling.