Securing Online Transactions the Old Fashioned Way

By Laura Rush | Posted December 02, 2003

www.buysafe.combuySAFE and The Hartford Financial Services Group recently launched a new service that solves the modern-day problem of online auction risks with the centuries-old solution of providing surety bonds.

The new service, buySAFE with The Hartford, is designed to not only help make online commerce safer for shoppers, but also to make the holidays more profitable for small business merchants, especially those who sell on auction platforms such as eBay.

Surety bonds have been used for centuries to guarantee traditional business transactions where the buyer and seller do not know each other, so this service should be a natural for online auctions.

The way it works is that buySAFE with The Hartford-approved sellers present a credibility seal of approval on their Web site, and customers of those Web sites are financially protected by the use of surety bonds.

A surety bond is a three-way agreement with a surety company that guarantees that an individual or business will do exactly what it committed to its customer. If the bonded individual or business does not fulfill its obligations, the surety company will compensate the customer for the incurred loss.

Rigorous qualification checks are done on merchants prior to their approval to prevent problems such as fraud or misrepresentation. For example, merchants must pass a comprehensive background check that examines sales experience, reputation, identity and financial stability.

According to the buySAFE site, all bonded sellers must also meet certain minimum requirements, including the following:

  • $1,000 a month in eBay sales

  • 100 eBay feedback rating

  • 98 percent positive eBay feedback

  • Business must be based in the United States, except for Hawaii

The bonds provide that The Hartford will refund an item's sale price or replace an item in the event the bonded seller does not fulfill the terms of the sale. This protects consumers from certain online transaction risks such as fraud, misrepresentation, refund failure and seller default. The maximum possible protection is the final transaction price, up to $10,000. Sellers who qualify for the buySAFE surety bond program pay BuySafe one percent of a final sales price for the right to include the "buySAFE with the Hartford" logo with their product descriptions.

Adapted from ECommerce-Guide.com.

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