October 3, 2001, 12:00 AM

Consumer group launches educational campaign about safe web shopping

59% of consumers surveyed still believe it’s safer to buy online with a check or money order than a credit card.

Security remains a top-ranking concern among online shoppers with 43% believing they’re risking theft of their credit card numbers when they use them to buy online, according to a new survey from the National Consumers League. Additionally, more than half the consumers surveyed – 59% -- mistakenly believe it’s safer to pay for an online purchase with a check or money order than a credit card.

Credit cards are actually the safest way to pay online, says Susan Grant, director of Internet Fraud Watch for the Washington, D.C.-based consumer group. “You can dispute the charges if something goes wrong,” she says.

Continuing worries about credit card security haven’t stopped consumers from buying online, however. Some 55% of NCL survey respondents with Internet access said they’d placed an order online in the previous 12 months, compared with only 44% who reported doing so in a similar 1999 survey. To allay consumers` concerns about the safety of online shopping, NCL has launched an educational campaign posted on a new web page, www.nclnet.org/shoppingonline, which includes six tips for safe shopping on the web, survey results, and information about privacy, security and safety on the web. It also includes facts about Internet fraud and links to other resources.

The campaign is supported by an educational grant from Orbiscom Inc., a provider of single-use and substitute credit card numbers. “The need to alleviate consumers` fears about online shopping becomes critical as we move into the holiday shopping season,” says Ray Sheridan, chief operating officer at Orbiscom.

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