The e-Commerce Safety Guide
About the Author
Robert Chesnut is one of the world’s most respected authorities on Internet fraud and high-tech crimes. As Vice President of Trust and Safety for eBay and with strategic responsibility for all protection programs for PayPal, Rob created and leads eBay’s Rules, Trust and Safety Department, which is responsiblefor the formation and coordination of eBay’s trust and safety strategy worldwide. Chesnut has been a member of eBay’s legal team since 1999, coordinating the company’s relationship with state and federal law enforcement agencies and devising policies to inform eBay users of laws that ban or regulate the sale of certain merchandise and services. He also works with law enforcement to investigateallegations relating to eBay and PayPal users who may be engaged in fraud or the sale of stolen property. Prior to joining eBay, Chesnut worked as a federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for 11 years. He served as the chief of that office’s major crimes unit for five years and handled several noteworthy espionage cases. He is a graduate of theUniversity of Virginia and Harvard Law School.
Why Shop Online?
Few developments have altered America’s lifestyle more quickly and more completely than the Internet. Online access has enabled people from all walks of life to bring entire libraries, entertainment venues, post offices and financial centers to a workplace, to a desktop or to a shirt pocket. The Internet’s largest and mostmeaningful impact may very well be on the way consumers shop for everything from gifts, gadgets and groceries to clothing, cars, and cruises. The ease and selection that the Internet provides to shoppers has changed the face of retailing. More and more, consumers visit a store’s Web site to make their choices before traveling to the store itself; and in a rapidly swelling tide, many shoppers arebypassing the store altogether and ordering online directly from the Web sites of their favorite brands and outlets. Companies like Sephora, Sears and Crate & Barrel have increased the range and quantity of products available at their online stores and are sending online coupons and sale announcements via e-mail directly to their customers. Because online stores are open 24 hours a day, seven daysa week, and their inventories are often more complete than those of their brick-and-mortar counterparts, the Internet makes it easy for shoppers to compare products within or between stores, to read product reviews from other customers, to access vendor return policies and to find warranty information. A recent study of the marketplace by Nielsen//Net Ratings found more than 200 million Americans(or 75%) are using the Internet. Those who shopped online in 2003 spent $17.2 billion online in just the fourth quarter alone. Research firms anticipate that, in 2004, the number of online shoppers will increase by 14 percent, representing 30 percent of the U.S. population. In four more years, half the country’s population will be purchasing online.
Research firms anticipate that, in 2004, thenumber of online shoppers will increase by 14 percent, representing 30 percent of the U.S. population.
Americans’ Concerns About Safe Shopping
Increasingly, American consumers are expecting merchants – from major department stores to individuals who sell handcrafted jewelry to electronics and cars – to make their products easily available on the Web. They’re also expecting these onlineretailers to make payments a simple and secure process. While consumers have confidence in online stores, recent research suggests their confidence levels in the security of the actual purchases from these stores, especially from lesser-known or unknown sellers, lag behind their desire to engage in shopping over the Internet. An April 2004 survey by AC Nielsen found that news stories about...