Many of our dealers have a secure online credit application integrated into their website.  This makes it easier for their potential customer to send the majority of the information the dealership needs in order to obtain credit information for him and/or her to secure financing for their purchase.  On any online form, if you are asking the end user to enter personal information about themselves, such as date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, etc., the page the form is on needs to be secure.  This protects both the end users on your website and your dealership.

How to Tell if a Page is Secure:

  • the URL or address for the page will start with ”https” rather than ”https”
  • you will see a lock icon in the address bar if you are using Internet Explorer (you can click on this lock to review the SSL Certificate effective dates)
  • there may be a “seal” from the SSL certificate company on the page (you can click on this seal and view who it’s registered to, effective dates and more)

What is “HTTPS”:

Most of the website pages you visit will start with ”https”.  HTTP, Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is a system for transmitting and receiving information across the Internet.  When an https URL is used, it indicates that an encrypted connection is requested.  When the information is transmitted, it can only be accessed by the end server.  To encrypt the information being sent, we use an SSL Certificate.  There are a number of 3rd party providers of SSL Certificates, but choose wisely.  You’ll want to make sure it’s a reputable provider that end users will be comfortable with and trust or they won’t fill out the form.  In order to establish an SSL Certificate on your website, it must be installed on the server your website resides on, so typically your hosting provider sets up the SSL Certificate for you because there is an authentication process to go through.

What Kind of Information is Typical to Gather on a Credit Application:

Credit Application forms are fairly long, but it’s pretty stardard to ask the applicant for their name, address, phone number, social security number, driver’s license number, housing information and employment information.  If they have a co-applicant that same information will be asked of them.  In addition, if they have a trade-in, dealers usually ask for the basic details about their trade-in.  Finally, there is a “statement of consent” the end user must agree to that basically states they are allowing you to pull their credit history and other information you need to determine if they qualify for financing with your dealership.

My Two Cents…

Having an online, secure credit application on your website is another way for your visitors to interact with your website, which is a good thing.  Typically, the visitors that fill out this form are buyers, not tire kickers, so make sure you respond to these inquiries very quickly – within 15 minutes if you can.  Even if it’s just a phone call to thank them for filling out the form and assure them you are working on it.

If you are thinking about adding a credit application to your website, make sure your website provider can host an SSL Certificate on your domain name.  I’ve seen many dealer websites out there that link to their hosting providers domain name for their secure credit application.  Yes, it’s cheaper for the hosting provider because they only have to purchase and renew a single SSL Certificate that they can then charge for and use on multiple dealer websites.  The end user may get a little suspicious of your credit application if it’s not a page within your website / domain name.

I’d Like to Get Your Feedback

What do you think about adding an online secure credit application to your website?  Do you have one now?  How many form submissions per month do you receive from it?  What has the feedback been from your website visitors on it?

Cindy Spencer  🙂

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with, and  Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with website design & hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance & SEO and much more.  Connect with Cindy on Google+.

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