Credit cards provide a quick and convenient way to purchase products and services online, but using them responsibly is absolutely essential, particularly considering the rapidly increasing prevalence of online credit card fraud. Understandably, a lot of people are wary about shopping online and sending out their personal or financial details over the Internet, but with a little vigilance, online shopping and finance does not have to be particularly risky. The following tips will help you to keep your credit card details safe when making online transactions.
Use Up-to-Date Antivirus Software
The first thing to do before using your computer for anything finance-related is to ensure that it is as secure as possible. For this reason, you should avoid using shared public computers in places like Internet cafés for anything which involves your personal or financial information. Some malicious software can record information entered on your keyboard, such as credit card details entered when making an online purchase. On your home computer, you are solely responsible for making sure that your antivirus software is kept up-to-date. Modern versions of Windows provide a basic level of defence in the form of Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials. These are generally adequate for most people, but those who regularly shop online or use Internet banking may want to consider going for a more sophisticated antimalware suite.
Research Online Merchants
If you are making your first ever transaction with a particular website, be sure that you familiarize yourself with its reputation and security standards before parting with any financial information. If a particular website has any history of involvement with malicious software or scams of any kind, a quick search on Google should let you know all about it in a matter of seconds. When choosing a new shop for purchasing products online, independent customer reviews can help to give you a much better idea of whether or not a particular service is worth dealing with.
Be Wary of Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are constantly on the rise. These are scams in which a website or email masquerades as an official-looking version in an attempt to dupe people into entering personal or financial information. Fortunately, most of these scams will go straight into your junk email and you won’t even notice them. However, from time to time, you will still encounter phishing scams either in your email inbox or while browsing the Web. They are usually quite easy to pick out. Tell-tale signs include obvious spelling or grammar mistakes, tactics used to scare you into downloading or purchasing a fraudulent product and any emails which come from public addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. It is also wise to remember that no reputable company will ever ask you for account passwords or for you to send financial information over email.
Use Online Verification
Online verification provides an additional level of protection which requires you to enter a password whenever you use your credit card online. You will be asked to enter specific digits of your password only, so even if you have a keylogger or similar malicious software running on your computer, you should still be protected. Additionally, credit card thieves will not be able to use your credit card online if it is protected by online verification. For Visa credit cards, there is Verified by Visa, while for MasterCard, there is MasterCard SecureCode. Contact your credit card provider to find out about using this feature.
Use SSL-Protected Websites
Secure Socket Layer is an encryption technology which encrypts any data being sent out from your computer. All reputable online stores use SSL encryption, and if they don’t, they use online payment services, such as PayPal, which do. SSL encryption is particularly important when accessing the Internet over a public wireless network, even if it is a passkey-secured one. You can tell if a particular webpage is secured by SSL encryption by its prefix. If the address begins with ‘https’ rather than ‘http,’ then it is protected by SSL. In most browsers, a padlock icon or something similar will appear beside the address as well.