Whether you are online or shopping at your local department store, there is going to be some level of risk involved with using your credit card. Thieves and scammers are becoming increasingly skilled at stealing your financial information and using it to their advantage. Online shoppers are particularly apprehensive about credit card fraud while they are shopping because there is no way to tell for sure who is really able to see the sensitive financial information that you may type into a site.
Below you will find a number of helpful tips that you can use to protect yourself from credit card fraud when shopping online. Remember that although you can never receive a guarantee that you will never become a victim of credit card fraud, you can make it more difficult to a thief to the point that they will move on to an easier victim.
Step #1 — Do your homework when choosing a vendor
•Make sure that there is a padlock symbol in the browser box and that the web address for your vendor starts with “https” before even considering doing business on their site.
Review the company in question’s policies. This includes privacy, return, refund, and satisfaction policies.
•Get the okay from the Better Business Bureau before purchasing something online. If the company in question is registered with the Better Business Bureau, chances are that they are legitimate.
•Get referrals and search for customer feedback. Ask your friends if they have purchased from a particular site and what their experience was. Do an online search to uncover any disgruntled customers that the vendor’s site may not want you to read about. Keep in mind that there are scam artists that will slander other businesses and then try to sell you their own information after accusing others of dishonesty and fraud. Don’t be fooled.
•Secure sites should also be encrypting information at around a 128-bit encryption in order to scramble information when it is being sent so that your credit card information cannot be deciphered if it is picked up while being transmitted.
Step #2 — Know what you are getting into when making a purchase
•Make sure that before you agree to pay for something that you have factored in all the variables of taxes, shipping, handling, processing and any other applicable charges that may not be readily apparent.
•Print your receipts, agreements and policy information so that if something were to go wrong with your purchase you would have physical evidence to aid you should there be a dispute.
Step#3 — Create a secure password
•Many cases of credit card fraud are the result of a thief being able to guess or somehow gain access to your account password. When creating a password, remember that it should be a case sensitive password (meaning that it should contain both upper and lower case letters). Your password should also contain at least 2 numbers.
•Make sure that the password and user ID that you use for a site are unique to that site so that even if a thief were to gain access to that information, it would only be good for one site.
Do not use words or phrases that are easily recognized. Using a name or birth date is a bad idea. In fact, you should avoid using any word that can be found in the dictionary and any sequence of numbers or letters that is familiar (such as “abc” or “123”).
•Misspell words; interject numbers where letters should be, etc. You want to make your password hard to guess but not so hard that you won’t be able to remember it. You need to know what it is without having to physically write it down.
Step #4 — The FTC security net
If even after you have done everything that you can think of to protect yourself from fraud while shopping online you still become a victim, take heart that Federal Trade Commission has made it possible for card owners to only be responsible for $50 of the total amount that was stolen. The remainder will be credited back to the customer’s account.