Safe Online Shopping: Avoiding Online Credit Card Fraud
Shopping online has become increasingly popular in recent years to the point that it is now part of everyday life competing head on with traditional stores for everything from DVD's and groceries through to travel.
In spite of this increasing popularity there is one fear that has kept many wary of online shopping. This fear is credit card fraud. How do you know that when you enter your credit card details online you're personal information and card details are not going to fall into the wrong hands?
While everything carries a degree of risk, shopping online should be relatively safe providing you follow these tips to keep your details in the right hands.
Shop Online from Well-Known Companies
The Internet has matured to the point that many online companies such as Amazon.com in the US have become household names. Also, many 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
There will always be times when you want to purchase something online from a website you've not purchased from before. This is especially true in Australia where many big name chain stores have been slow to move online and many online retailers are small operators.
If it's your first time shopping on a particular site then check out the company before making purchases to be sure they have a good reputation. As well as word of mouth from friends and family you can also search consumer review websites where companies and products are rated and discussed.
Check for Contact Details
Make sure the company you plan to buy from provides contact details other than just an email address or online form. If anything was to go wrong then you will need to contact them. Look for a postal address and landline phone number. You may also want to check if they display an Australian ABN number.
Only use Secure Websites
Once you are happy with the company you are purchasing from you need to make sure 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 by breaking it up into small pieces so that the information can not be read by anyone attempting to intercept it.
To ensure your purchase is processed using SSL or secure technology there are a few things to look for in your Internet browser. Depending on your browser settings you may receive a message stating that you are about to enter a secure area. The secure area normally begins on the first page of the site where you enter personal details. You can also look for a padlock symbol in the lower right corner of your browser symbolising the page is secure.
Most often the website address in your browser address bar will also 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.
An ever growing number of online stores now require a CVV or card verification number when making a purchase. The CVV code is the small code located on the back of your card on the signature bar.
Generally the last 3 digits of the code are required. This is to prevent fraudulent purchases from someone who has managed to get your name; card number and expiration date from being able to make purchases using your card.
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.
These are optional security features so only offer support with selected websites or payment processing systems. If you activate the code and shop on sites that carry the Verified by Visa or Mastercard Secure Code logos, the check out process will require the password you set up in order to authorise your purchase.
Phishing Emails - Don't Get Reeled In
Be aware of email scams designed to gain access to 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 often 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 helps 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 greater 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 your credit card provider may credit back any fraudulent transactions meaning you don't end up out of pocket if they offer fraud protection.
Further security measures to reduce online card fraud continue to be researched. One system being tested in the USA involves having a small screen within your credit card. Each time you pay online a random code is generated on the card; this code is required to make a purchase ensuring only the person holding the card can make a purchase.
Online shopping is certainly here to stay with industries such as travel & finance leading the way. There are good arguments to say shopping online can be safer than shopping over the phone or even in person as you never hand you card details over to another person.
While credit card fraud may never be wiped out completely these simple tips should help you shop online safely and securely.
This article brought to you by Click 4 Credit.
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