The last thing that you want to think about as you are preparing your Christmas gift list is if you will be taken advantage of as you make your purchases. Most online Christmas shoppers choose to shop by using the Internet because of the convenience and ease of finding virtually anything and having it shipped anywhere without ever leaving the comfort of your home. So how can you ensure that your credit card stays safe while still benefiting from the ease of doing all of your Christmas shopping online?
Fortunately there are ways to keep your personal financial information safe while you are Christmas shopping online. Below are some simple suggestions that will dramatically lessen your appeal to potential Internet thieves and scammers.
Steps to follow
1.Update your firewall and spy-ware — You may not be able to ensure that everywhere you shop is going to be 100% safe, but you can make sure that you do all that you can to make sure that no information is going to be leaked from your end of the connection.
2.Look for safety symbols — There are two main indicators that a website is legitimate (although hackers are becoming better at faking these symbols). The first is to shop at a site that begins with https (not just http). The second symbol is to have a closed padlock somewhere at the bottom of the screen.
3.Never give personal information via e-mail — A very popular trick that scammers are using is to solicit your financial information when you think you are on a reputable site. A pop-up box asking you to send personal information via instant messaging or e-mail should never be trusted. E-mail correspondence is not protected the same way that information is protected on secure websites.
4.Shop with names that you know and trust — Shopping only with online stores that you recognize and have already built a relationship with is good for several reasons. One reason is that a bigger company will have more resources available to combat those who would try to commit fraud. The safety of their website is important to business. Also, another reason why using your credit card on websites with big-name companies is that if something goes wrong with the transaction or you need to make a return or an exchange, you may sometimes have the ability to drive to a physical location to resolve an issue in person.
5.Policies, guarantees, and returns — Online shopping is filled with all kinds of variables. You may have some items charged to your card and then change your mind and need to return them. Reading through the information provided on the contractual agreements that are almost always present is a smart thing to do ahead of time to ensure that you are not simply out of the money that you spent if there are no refunds. Also look through anything that you agree to in order to ensure that your privacy is protected from distribution to third parties.
With all of the talk about the potential dangers of the Internet, traditional brick and mortar shops get pushed out of the picture. However, it is interesting to note that statistically you are more likely to have your credit card compromised when you make a purchase in person versus on the Internet. When more people have access to your card (the cashier, shifty eyes all around you, manager over finances, etc.) the likelihood of someone taking advantage of you increases. This concept of the probability for problems being more likely for in-person purchases is difficult for some to believe simply because the Internet seems so much more dangerous because it’s more commonly talked about.