While online shopping continues to grow as an industry, there is still a risk associated with using a credit card for purchasing a product or service over the web.
While this may sound shocking at first, cybercrime is just a part of living in the digital age.
So, like it or not, credit card safety is a concern that any online retailer should take seriously. And, it’s something that every online consumer should keep in mind. Even if you regularly shop online and have never had an issue, you should start thinking about how to protect your sensitive information online.
This detailed guide will show you credit card safety tips and how to protect your credit card details when shopping online:
The Credit Card Safety Guide
While you shouldn’t be afraid to shop online, you do need to take precautions to prevent your credit card information from being stolen.
Here are some top tips for keeping your data safe when shopping online:
1. Trusted Websites
You should only make purchases from trusted or safe websites.
This means that when making a purchase, it is best to go directly to a website. For example, it is better to buy a third-party product from a major online retailer such as Amazon or eBay than contacting the seller directly and cutting out the middleman.
The middleman ensures trust. Reputable websites like Amazon use superior technology to ensure your online security. Plus, if your seller does not deliver the product, Amazon can work toward you receiving a refund or solving a dispute.
This is the difference between going to a physical shop and meeting someone on a random street corner to buy something!
The middleman trusted website also works as an escrow.
This means that they will hold the money and not give it to the seller until they fulfill their promise of delivering the product. This also ensures that the seller does not get your credit card information – only your money, once they deliver on their end of the bargain.
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2. Buy At Home
One of the best precautions you can take when shopping online is to avoid doing it from a public place.
If you are in a public area, such as a coffee shop, you are vulnerable to cybercrime. Your internet browsing activity can be tracked by hackers, as public Wi-Fi is often not equipped with strong security.
The internet connection at your home is likely to have much stronger security. This means you’ll be safer from hacking attempts. No matter how important a purchase seems, wait till you are at home.
3. Protect Your Computer
There are a few steps you can take to protect your computer:
First of all, you’ll want to use a VPN even when home to protect your browsing activity from potential attacks. A VPN can hide your browsing activity, which will include any credit card purchases.
You should also make sure your computer has antivirus software. Viruses and other types of malware can steal data from your computer. Anti-spyware software is also strongly recommended so that it is not easy for anyone to spy on your computer activity.
It’s also a good idea to install computer tracking software. In the event that your computer is lost or stolen, you will want to retrieve and potentially delete your data. If the thief has access to your computer’s stored information, they might eventually find your credit card details.
A program, such as Prey Project, can track your computer’s location, retrieve your files, and then remotely delete all your files and stored data – including any saved credit card information on your web browser.
4. Verify with the Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is the best place to go to for checking the credibility of a business. If you have to purchase something online from a website that you do not recognize, then check with the BBB if they are legitimate.
If you cannot find a positive review from the BBB, then it is probably not worth the risk to purchase anything from the website.
Remember, a website that is not trusted and lacking a credible reputation is one of the worst places where you can go to make a purchase.
5. Keep Your Receipts
Just like shopping in the physical world, you should keep your receipts in the digital world. Save your online receipts as a PDF, and we would also suggest printing them out.
If you see a fraudulent or overcharge on your credit card statement, your bank will have a digital record of the purchase. So, hold on to all of your receipts and compare them to your monthly statement. This will make it easier to locate fraudulent charges.
This method can also prevent overcharging. If your bank statement shows that you were charged $100, but your receipt shows that you were charged $50, your digital record can help get your money back.
If you request a refund and you are not granted a refund at all, you can furnish a refund receipt as your proof for being entitled to a refund.
Always keep copies of your receipts. They may come in handy.
6. Oh, We Are Talking About Credit Cards Only!
While this article focuses on credit card safety tips, some online shoppers prefer to use a debit card. This card type automatically withdraws the money from your bank account. So, you don’t have the extra task of paying your credit card bill each month.
Obviously, this is pretty convenient.
But, in this case, convenience can be harmful to your security. If your debit card information is stolen, your bank account could be depleted through online purchases.
7. Never Share Your Credit Card Information
The only place where your credit card information should be entered is on a payment page.
Your credit card information should never be shared on any other internet platform. This includes (among others) sending this information over email or discussing it through live chat.
Pictures or videos of your credit card should never be shown online. If, for example, you were making a video of completing an online purchase, you should censor (blur) your credit card from the screen before uploading the video.
Sharing your credit card information online should be avoided when not directly purchasing on a trusted website.
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8. Online Accounts
You probably take this for granted. You need to make sure your online accounts are difficult to bypass.
Imagine if your Amazon account was hacked. The hacker would have access to ALL of the payment methods that you have saved to your Amazon account. All it takes is figuring out your login credentials.
You should also disable autofill. It may be tedious, but it is better to enter your credit card information online every single time you make a purchase.
9. Protecting Your Identity
You may not realize it, but your credit card is part of your financial information, which is part of the larger sphere that is your identity.
You need to be aware of the dangers of identity theft. And take care to protect yourself from them. These extra precautions will ensure that your online information is not easily found. In turn, this will protect your credit card information.
If, by chance, your identity is stolen, make sure you take the necessary steps to protect yourself during and after this stressful situation.
10. Additional Protections
Luckily, there are plenty of options for protecting your credit card information online.
You should sign up for a service like PayPal that protects your credit card information from the seller. If the website allows you to pay via PayPal, you should always choose this option instead of directly entering your credit card information.
There are also virtual credit card numbers. You get to generate a virtual credit card number that has a limited working time and then type in this generated number instead of your actual credit card number when making a purchase.
There are also services, such as Mastercard Secure Code, that will request you to type in a code (usually sent to your phone or email) before making a purchase. This is a similar approach to multi-factor authentication. And while this may be more time-consuming, it can ensure added safety.
You should talk to your credit card company about all the safety measures that could be put into place.
For example, if you purchase from an international website – will they automatically accept it or ask you to verify your purchase? While verifying your purchase may take longer, it ensures that a foreign hacker does not use your credit card. This is an added protection that your credit card company should offer.
If they don’t, it might be time to switch companies!
11. Report Any Issues
If you do see any fraudulent use of your credit card, do not wait to report it to your credit card company.
You’ll need their help to cancel your credit card and send you a brand new one with a new card number. Make sure to remove your credit cards from PayPal, Amazon, or any other service where you are obliged to save your credit card information.
Just as we advised in choosing your credit card wisely, make sure you select a company with stellar customer service. This ensures that any issue is solved promptly.
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Now that you know the importance of credit card safety, make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your credit card information and identity online.
And, if you follow only one tip from this article, make it this one:
Be sure your computer and web browsers are protected from any potential attacks, as these are the fastest ways for your credit card information to be stolen.
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