The Internet is empowering people in ways that are unthinkable even a few years ago. Web 2.0 technologies, such as social media, instant access to information, and the explosion of mobile devices, are helping people communicate in a more productive and dynamic manner. People now are performing everyday tasks, like shopping and banking, more conveniently and efficiently through online platforms.

Online shopping and banking are quite safe if you play it smart and deploy basic safety measures. Here’s how to make your online transactions more secure:

Know your seller: Unlike a shopping mall or a street vendor, it is difficult to assess an online vendor because you do not see other patrons and cannot see the store’s offices and showroom. What you can do is to check with your local Chamber of Commerce to ascertain the goodwill (or lack thereof) of the store, look for information on the store’s website, and read what others have said about the store. The bottom line is that you should only do business with online vendors that are upfront and have a good reputation.

Use secure sites: Many online stores use advanced encryption methods and validation processes to ensure that your credit card number remains safe and to prevent others from fraudulently using your identity. There are several signs to know whether a store has security measures in place. If you’re using Internet Explorer, your browser will display a “locked” icon near the web address to show you are on a secure section of the site. Secure sites will also have a different address. Instead of beginning with http://, the site’s URL will begin with https://. The “s” means the site is using a secure server.

Keep transaction records: Never toss electronic receipts or email confirmations for your online purchases; keep a record of all your transactions. These records are a convenient way to track shipping dates and other details. They also serve as key pieces of evidence, should a dispute arise regarding an online purchase.