You need to stay safe and secure when you shop online. No matter if you’re shopping for that perfect present from around the world or just handling your grocery.
Online shopping is pretty convenient when you consider that you really do have a whole world of goods waiting for you without you even needing to leave the house.
Unfortunately shopping online with a credit card can open you up to an entirely different world; one filled with the troubles of identity theft and fraud.
Here are five tips to keep your credit card secure while shopping online.
1. Only Buy from Trusted Sites
Shopping online is much like shopping in the real world; you should only ever buy from a trusted retailer in both the online and offline worlds. Head to the official site in question by typing in the URL in your address bar.
The following security signs will let you know if you’re dealing with a website you can trust with your credit card number:
- If the URL begins with “https” instead of “http”, then it means that the site uses secure encryption. This means that the data sent to and from the website, such as your personal information, is kept hidden.
- If your browser displays a lock icon at the bottom of the page or in the address bar, it means that the website is secure.
- If the page has service icons from some of the most trusted online security firms including McAfee and Verisign – make sure these are genuine though as some websites simply put the picture up to trick you
- Signs that a website isn’t to be trusted include mistakes with spelling and grammar, a low-resolution logo, requesting too much personal information, and not asking for the three-digit security code on the back of your credit card
2. Don’t Save your Credit Card Number
It’s nice and convenient to use a one-click checkout method, but when you allow an online service to save your credit card information you’re making it easier for someone else to steal. There’s always the chance that your information could be stolen when you’re typing it out, but the risk that it will be stolen is greater if it is kept in a retail database.
If you would like to continue using the convenience of one-click shopping then the password you use for the website that has it needs to be incredibly secure. It should be at least ten characters long and a mix of numbers, letters and symbols.
3. Don’t Use Debit Cards
There are three main reasons to ditch the debit card and use your credit card for online purchases. With credit cards, you have federal protection, a reimbursement time lag, and a greater level of service protection and security services.
The federal protection comes from the Fair Credit Billing Act which means that your liability for unauthorized credit card charges won’t go higher than $50; a mere tenth of the $500 liability that comes with debit cards that you’re stuck with if you fail to report the card as stolen or lost in time.
Another problem that arises with credit cards is that, while your bank may reimburse you for the money you lose through fraud, the money is still gone from your account. You won’t have access to it until the claim is processed and your money is reimbursed and put back in your account.
4. Never Shop on an Open Wi-Fi Network
With the rise in mobile phones and tablets, more people are online shopping just about everywhere. Smartphones give you an excellent choice for comparison shopping, and there are even mobile coupons, but you should ensure you only ever make a mobile purchase over a secured network.
Public Wi-Fi spots are great for surfing the net, but they are incredibly vulnerable. You can always search for something while sipping coffee at Starbucks but you should wait until you’re on a secure network to actually purchase it.
You should also avoid using a credit card to make a purchase on a public computer or tablet. These devices save a cache that someone else using the computer could access and potentially get your information from.
5. Ignore Suspicious Emails
You can still be a victim of fraud even after the purchase has gone through. Many phishing scams involve emails that appear to be follow-up emails issued by a retailer. These emails claim that there is a problem with your order and that you need to give them your card information again. Or perhaps they say that they need the last four digits of your social security because, somehow, that will confirm the purchase.
If an actual retailer needed you to give your information again for any reason, they would send you to their official, secure, website. They would also never ask for your social security number. If you’re not sure if an email is genuine or not, then call up the customer service team and find out directly from one of their representatives.
When it comes to staying safe while shopping, it’s far better to be safe than sorry. Keep these tips in mind and practice them to keep your credit card secure when you’re shopping online. That way you can avoid identity theft and fraud. Have fun shopping!