Stay Safe When Using Credit Cards to Shop Online

Helpful security hints you cannot afford to miss

Many of us are accustomed to purchasing products and services online with a credit card. Unfortunately, we can get a little too comfortable with this form of technology and forget important security measures in the process. Do not make this mistake, because credit card scams are big business for criminals.

With sound judgment and the latest technology, you can keep your credit cards safe and secure while shopping online. While some potential security issues may still exist, the following tips will enhance online safety and decrease the chances that you will become a victim to online credit card scams.

Make purchases through secure e-commerce websites. If a website displays the “VeriSign” seal, it means it employs independent website authentication and advanced security measures to provide you a safe shopping experience. Another indicator of a secure website is the padlock icon on your browser window. You should also see an “s” added to the “http” in the website addresses of sites you visit, on any pages where you enter your personal information and/or payment information. The “https” means the site uses data coding (encryption) and other technology to safeguard the information you transmit; without it, your credit card information is more vulnerable and information can be stolen during an online payment transaction.

A secure website page, such as a “checkout” page, will appear like this, for example: https://amazon.com (instead of the http://amazon.com you see on regular product information pages). If you have any doubts, put your credit card away until you have found a website with which you are more comfortable.

Seek out reputable retailers. If you are uncertain about an online merchant, consult Better Business Bureau Online’s Reliability Program, at www.bbbonline.org/reliability/requirement_small.asp, or review websites such as www.resellerratings.com to see if there have been any complaints regarding the company. Some e-commerce sites, including eBay, offer user feedback about shopping experiences.

Read privacy policies. Before giving away your personal information, review the merchant’s privacy policies. Some online businesses may share or even sell your information to other companies, which you would not be aware of unless you specifically checked for this information. If you feel uncomfortable with an online merchant’s privacy terms, try another merchant.

Keep it simple. Use a designated credit card for online purchases. This can make it easier to track fraudulent activity if the situation arises. Print or retain electronic receipt copies, including confirmation numbers and emails.

Remove credit card info from your computer. Do not store credit card information on your computer. Especially do not store credit card information on a laptop that will be used out of the house.

Update your computer regularly. If online shopping is your thing, it is important to have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Also, update your computer’s operating system and Internet browser(s) frequently. Older versions can be more vulnerable to security breaches.

Be safe on the road. Refrain from paying bills online at a shared public computer. It is also unwise to conduct online transactions over a public Wi-Fi connection, unless you are confident the network is secure.

Electronic alerts act as theft warnings. Some credit card companies offer electronic fraud alerts. If you choose to sign up, you will be notified of any suspicious activity on your account. This is an excellent way to keep abreast of fraud. Be sure to resolve any issues brought to your attention as quickly as possible.

Shopping wisely and safely online can be an enjoyable and efficient experience. By trusting your instincts and implementing these tips, you can avoid becoming a victim of online credit card fraud.

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