New scheme insures online shoppers

Harvey Norman and Dymocks are among the retailers participating in a new scheme that insures their online customers against the illegal use of their credit cards and the non-delivery of goods.

Safetrade is an Internet transaction insurance service that guarantees customers a secure environment when buying online and the delivery of their goods on time, officials said.

Customers purchasing goods or services from Safetrade member sites are protected against the fraudulent use of credit cards and resulting financial loss, and the non-delivery of goods purchased, officials said. Safetrade will reimburse customers up to $2000 for a single claim.

Safetrade and its retail partners, who also include eFlowers and Travel.com, plan to establish an Internet retail network that ensures online security, said the company's chairman, Howard Davies.

"This is the ideal way of giving online customers the confidence to send their financial information over the Web," Davies said.

"Research shows a lack of confidence is the largest impediment to online trading.

"We hope to meet the needs of online shoppers by offering the piece of mind insurance provides," he said.

Davies said Safetrade's partners would have to pass a number of "stringent" procedures which are required and enforced by the company's underwriter HIH Casualty and General Insurance.

Safetrade is also holding discussions with a number of Australian businesses, and, Davies said, was also planning to launch into the overseas market.

Harvey Norman's computers and communications Internet proprietor, Richard Eastmead, said the retailer was very confident of being able to provide the safest possible online environment for its customer's needs.

A recent survey by the global Internet research group IMR Worldwide found that more than 90 per cent of Australia's 3.6 million Internet users are reluctant to shop online due to security issues.

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