Online shoppers don't shop online as freely as they used to.

This is mainly due to the overwhelming number of data breaches reported each year, leading to privacy and security concerns among online shoppers. According to a report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, almost 19 million U.S. homes reported being the target of a data breach, identity theft or other similar situation between July 2014 and July 2015. Such activity occurred more frequently among homes with multiple Internet-connected devices. Thirty-one percent of homes with five devices or more reported being targeted, compared to 25 percent of those with four devices and 19 percent of those with three.

Based on this information, the rest of the survey's results aren't surprising. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they were concerned about internet security and privacy, citing situations such as identity theft and payment fraud as major points of worry. What's most troubling, however, is that these concerns prevent people from feeling comfortable making online payments. Forty-five percent of households said they avoid buying things online, posting on social media or making electronic payments over the Internet due to privacy or security issues.

Imagine if 45 percent of your customers suddenly stopped shopping with your business, not because you offer bad products or customer service, but as a result of their own fear. You may feel like it's impossible to bring these shoppers back, but there are a few simple steps you can take to restore trust and encourage sales once more:

Work with a secure payment processor 
Customers who shop online generally have two major concerns: their personal information and their payment data. Every time they put their credit or debit card information into an online form, they risk having this data intercepted by a nefarious third party. It's up to your business to minimize this risk, and you can do so by working with a payment processing company that prioritizes payment security.

It's best to choose a company that's classified as a compliant Level 1 payment processor by a qualified security assessor, These businesses use practices outlined by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council to safeguard your customer's information.  Many of them offer hosted payment services that can minimize or eliminate your company's exposure to sensitive cardholder data during the payment process.  This reduces the amount of effort you and your employees have to put in to secure payment data from the prying eyes of hackers.  Speak with your payment processor about which of their integration options offer the highest level of security in advance of designing your payment forms and integrating the gateway.

Use the right security seals
Security logos and seals visually clue customers in to the fact that your website is protected. However, it's important to understand how the right combination of seals influences consumers. According to ClickZ, logos that have nothing to do with payment security sometimes inspire more trust than those that do. For example, more people trust a seal from the Better Business Bureau than one from the online security company Trustwave – 13 percent compared to 3 percent, to be exact. The most trustworthy companies were Norton at nearly 36 percent and McAfee at 23 percent. These organizations are more known for their anti-virus protection than payment security, indicating people simply trust familiar logos.

Still, just because customers have misconceptions about these logos doesn't mean your business shouldn't use them. In fact, mixing the right ones is more beneficial than not providing them at all. It's a good idea to show seals from brands your customers trust while also using SSL protection on your website.

Payment security isn't easy to address, but it's necessary to inspire consumer confidence and encourage more sales. These tips help your business put its best foot forward and earn back your audience's trust.

Brought to you by PacNet Services, your one-stop global payment processing solution.