In recent years online shopping has become part of everyday life and competes head on with more traditional ways of shopping for everything from groceries through to travel.
Despite the rise in online shopping there are often fears of personal information falling into the wrong hands and the risk of credit card fraud occurring. While everything carries a risk, shopping online should be relatively safe providing you follow these tips to keep your details in the right hands.
Use well known websites: The Internet has matured to the point that many online companies such as Amazon have become household names. Also, big brands from the real world have moved online. Well known names are likely to use the latest online security measures and handle a large number of transactions.
Check company reputation with first time purchases: Sometimes you’re bound to want to buy something online from a company you have not purchased from before. If it’s your first time shopping with a company then check out the company before making purchases to be sure they have a good reputation. Prior to the internet you had to rely on people you know for recommendations but these days there are many consumer review websites where companies and products are rated and discussed. You can also check the Better Business Bureau for details on the company including known complaints.
Only use secure websites: Once your happy with the company you are purchasing from you need to ensure your credit card details are being processed using a secure connection. The most common form of secure encryption is known as Secure Sockets Layer or SSL for short. SSL encrypts data and breaks it up into small pieces so that the information can not be read by anyone wanting to intercept it. To check your purchase is using SSL or secure technology there are a few things to look out for in your Internet browser. Depending on your browser settings you may receive a message stating that you are entering a secure area. The secure area normally begins on the first page where you enter personal details. You can also look out for a padlock symbol in your browser symbolizing the page is secure. Most often the address bar in your browser will change from starting with http to https.
Never send your credit card details through non-secure online methods such as via email. Such methods will offer little protection.
Security Code: An increasing number of online stores now request a CVV or card verification number when making a purchase. The CVV shop code is the small code shown on the signature bar on the back of your card. Normally the last 3 digits of the code are required. This is to prevent someone who has managed to get your name; card number and expiration date from being able to make purchases using your card.
Further security: Another security feature that credit card companies are using is to create another level of security by adding an additional password. An example of this is Verified by Visa or Mastercard Secure Code. This is an optional feature so only offers support with selected websites or payment processing systems. If you activate the code and shop on sites that carry the logo, the check out process will require the password you set up in order to authorize your purchase.
Phishing emails – don’t get hooked: Be aware of email scams designed to part you from your credit card information. Email scams that are designed to gather personal information such as passwords and credit card details are known as phishing emails. The idea is that thousands or hundreds of thousands are sent out in the hope of reeling in unsuspecting victims and getting them to part with confidential information. The emails appear to be from well known companies and can look quite convincing. However, legitimate companies including all banks will never send you an email with a link requesting your login, password or credit card details. If in doubt, type the web address of the company it relates to directly into the browser rather than following the email link.
Use a credit card with online fraud protection: Just in case all else fails it pays to know the policy for online fraud protection offered by your credit card company. Many credit card companies offer protection against purchases made without your consent and have special clauses to include online purchases. Credit cards tend to offer more protection than debit cards as they don’t directly remove funds from your own back account. If a transaction goes under investigation or proves to be fraudulent you may never end up out of pocket with a credit card providing your card issuer provides protection.