Online shopping is a modern blessing, but the risk of financial data being stolen can make it feel more like a curse. Avoid that sinking feeling after clicking “Complete Transaction” by taking these steps to make sure your online transaction is secure.
1. Use a Secure Connection
Make sure that both the Wi-Fi connection and the website URL that you’re using are secure. Never share personal or financial data over a public Wi-Fi connection. If you must shop over public Wi-Fi, use a VPN (virtual private network) to add security to the transaction.
2. Use a Trusted Website
Verify the security of the website you’re using by looking for ”https” at the beginning of the URL and checking for the closed lock or unbroken key in the browser, which indicates that your data will be secure and encrypted when submitted on that website.
3. Read the Privacy Statement
Any reputable site will clearly disclose how they protect and secure your personal information, including your credit card or banking data. Taking a few minutes to read the full privacy statement is worth it to ensure that you’re comfortable with the company’s privacy practices before you complete an online transaction.
4. Opt for Credit over Debit
A credit card offers you far more protection from fraud than a debit card. It’s a warning sign if a site only accepts debit cards or other forms of payment like PayPal. If a shady online peddler gets a hold of your debit card information, they could wipe out your bank account. Always use a credit card for online transactions, especially if it’s a new company or website that you haven’t done business with before.
5. Keep an Eye on Your Accounts
Sometimes the most crucial time to verify the security of an online transaction is after the fact. Keep copies of all confirmation and order numbers, and watch your credit card statements closely for any discrepancies. If you spot anything suspicious, alert the credit card company immediately.
What Is Credit Card Fraud?
Credit card fraud is the act of stealing a card holder’s account information to buy goods and services or take out cash advances. It’s also one of the biggest fears of people who use credit cards for online transactions. The good news is that federal law limits your liability to $50, as long as you complete a timely report of any unauthorized purchases. In addition, most major credit card companies have zero liability fraud policies, which means you won’t be on the hook for any charges made as a result of credit card fraud.
If the worst does happen, the sooner you can report the culprits, the less damage they can cause. Take the steps recommended here for safer online transactions, and stay diligent when it comes to checking your account statements and reviewing recent charges.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more