Online Shoppers Beware: Ways to Prevent Credit Card Fraud
Online security has gotten better as the years go by. More and more people take their shopping online, and more money passes between customer and retailer digitally than ever before. However, just because the big-name online stores are safe, doesn’t mean your credit card is safe anywhere online. There are a number of ways you can fall outside the safe zone, and a number of things you can do to prevent it. Just follow these simple guidelines and your online shopping experience will be safe.
1. Keep your Cards Safe
While it’s not strictly a practice for online security, keeping your credit card in a safe location physically goes a long way towards preventing fraud. If you lose your card, who knows who might pick it up and have a chance to use it before you cancel it. Most retailers don’t need you to enter a pin online, so the only information they need is what’s on the card. Keep the card safe and you minimize the chances of fraud.
2. Use Security
Most trusted financial institutions, including banks and retailers online, use security certificates on their websites. In your browser, this is reflected by a different color to the address bar, a lock icon or an https:// url. Make sure any website you’re giving your information to is using the appropriate security. This way you minimize the chances of someone intercepting your information between your browser and the retailer.
3. Type Web Addresses
Type in the URL when you visit an online store. Avoid clicking on links to financial or retail websites from e-mails or blogs unless you absolutely trust them. Even if the website at the other end looks the same, it might be a phishing site designed to steal your information. Even if something that bad doesn’t happen, there’s always the chance you were clicking a referral link, and are giving some of your money to the person who posted the link without your knowledge. You wouldn’t be charged more, but there’s no reason to pay someone else for your shopping.
4. Avoid Foreign Markets
Unless you’re intentionally importing something you can’t obtain in your country, you should avoid buying things from foreign retailers. It’s much harder to regulate foreign websites and they’re much more likely to be scams of some form or another. Even if your information isn’t stolen and you do receive a product, it may be sub-standard, defective or stolen. Not every foreign site is a scam, of course, but it’s better to avoid them when you can.
5. Look for Logos
Not corporate logos. Look for logos for two companies: Verisign and Trust-E. Both of these companies offer an additional layer of security to any web retailer that asks for it. Trust-E looks over privacy policies and makes sure that they’re not attempting to scam customers. Verisign verifies that a website is using the right certificates. You can click on the logo to view the site certificate, so make sure it’s validated.
6. Keep your Programs Updated
It helps if you have the most current versions of web browsers, operating systems and security software. The older a version is, the more likely it is to have a security hole someone could use to access your information. You should regularly run virus scans and keep a firewall online to avoid having a virus or trojan that would steal your information.
7. Keep your Information Safe
Never give out your credit card number, your confirmation code, your pin number, or any other bit of personal financial information unless you absolutely trust the person you’re giving it to. Don’t ever give it out over the phone, especially to anyone claiming to be your bank. The same goes for unsolicited e-mails. It is shockingly easy to impersonate someone from a legitimate institution.
8. Watch your History
Keep an eye on your credit card statements. At the first sign of anything unusual, contact your financial institution. No matter how small a charge may be, if you didn’t make it, you should report it. It could be something you forgot about, but it could also be someone testing to see if your information is valid before they use it.