5 Tips for Using Your Credit Card Safely Online
Credit card fraud continues to be a major concern among online shoppers, and it’s easy to make a mistake that can end up with your financial information landing in the wrong hands. From insecure payment systems to malicious software to scam websites, the virtual world presents just as many threats as the real world does. However, by practicing some vigilance and getting into a few good habits, you should be able to shop safely and confidently online. The following tips should help to ensure that your purchases are safe:
1. Don’t Shop Using Public Internet
Public Internet, particularly unsecured networks that are not password-protected, present serious risks to Internet shoppers. Criminals with the right kind of tools can tap into these networks and intercept traffic being sent from your computer to the public router. Unless you’re connecting through a virtual private network (VPN), you should always avoid shopping or banking online using a public network. You should only ever shop online using your own private network at home or that of a trusted friend or family member.
2. Use Secure Websites
All websites that ask for financial or personal information, including any login information, are legally obliged to provide a secure connection encrypted using the TSL (formerly SSL) protocol. You can easily tell if a website is secure by the padlock or similar icon beside the Web address in your browser. Secured webpage addresses will also begin with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’. Most modern browsers will also warn you if you’re trying to use a website that should be secured or if the website’s security certificate is out of date.
3. Check Reviews First
If you’re shopping at a new website for the first time, you should always check some reviews first, unless the website belongs to a big name that you’re already familiar with. If you have any doubt, be sure to check websites such as Trustpilot.com to see if there are any common consumer complaints regarding security. Most legitimate businesses also display a trust badge or seal of approval from established organisations, but there’s still no substitute for doing a little research for yourself.
4. Use an Authenticator
Many financial and payment companies provide additional security services for those shopping online. For example, Visa uses the Verified by Visa program whereby you need to enter three randomly selected characters from a password in order to finalise any transaction. MasterCard offers a similar feature called SecureCode. If you regularly shop online, it is wise to activate this additional feature, since it prevents malicious software, such as keyloggers, from being able to access credit or debit card information.
5. Identify Phishing Scams
The so-called phishing scam is one of the most common methods of online fraud whereby criminals attempt to dupe victims into unwittingly giving away their financial or personal information. Phishing scams most commonly arrive by email in the form of a message masquerading as one from a legitimate organisation, although the majority of them do end up in the spam folder. However, no legitimate company will ever ask for payment or password information by email, so it is usually not too difficult to identify phishing scams.
While the above tips will help you shop more securely online, there is no substitute for trusting in your own instinct and learning how to identify potentially malicious websites and online scammers. You should always keep your antivirus software up to date as well, but you should never rely on it fully. You can usually safely trust big names when shopping online, but you should always treat smaller e-commerce websites that you’ve never used before with a degree of suspicion. Most of them will be fine, but you need to find out for sure before giving away your payment details.
Here at Nexus if you’re an Apple Mac user we recommend having Kaspersky protection installed on your Mac, and if you have a PC computer or laptop we advise AVG protection. We can supply and install this software for you. To find out more or to have this software activated on your machine contact us today 01753 884 700.