In today’s world, paper money and coins are nearly forgotten in the face of a variety of plastics – credit cards and debit cards being the main choice of many consumers. You aren’t always running these through a machine or hand them to a cashier. Instead, we have traded in physical stores for online shopping.
This convenience, though, comes at a cost. If you aren’t careful, you can easily fall victim to fraud. However, with the right measures, this can be avoided. In this article, we will take a look at just 10 tips you can use to prevent online card fraud.
1. Make Sure the Website Is Safe
If you are going to shop online, it’s best to use reputable sites to shop. Well-known and well-reviewed sites are a better option than a website you’ve never heard of and found on the third page of a search engine.
It’s a good idea, though, to go a step further and ensure a site is safe by means other than just the hype surrounding a website. The simplest way to do this is to check and see if the URL starts with “https://”. In addition, some browsers – like Chrome – show a lock and the word “secure” in the address bar to the right left of the URL to notify about if a site is safe or not.
2. Don’t Save Your Cards
Some websites or browsers will offer to save your card information when you make a purchase. In most cases, this truly is for your convenience and the site itself harbors no ill will about what they will do with that information. Amazon and Google are both reputable sites that practice this.
The problem comes in, however, when someone else gets a hold of your passwords, accounts, or your computer or phone gets stolen. At that point, they can make purchases with your card information before you even notice that they have that information. You can prevent this by having strong passwords but the most surefire way to keep your cards safe is to not save the information on your computer or online.
3. Beware of Phishing
One of the most easiest ways for someone to gain access to your card information is, shockingly, to simply ask for it. In a scam known as phishing, fraudulent individuals or companies will contact you via email and ask for personal information.
The first measure you should take is to not open any emails or attachments from sources you don’t know and definitely don’t send them any personal information. Sometimes, though, these scams disguise themselves as a familiar face with good intentions. In these cases, always check with the company to see if these emails are real. For example, if your bank emails you asking for personal information, give them a call and see if they really need your information.
Beware phishing scams offline as well. Many of these practices are used in fraudulent phone calls too.
4. Invest in Cybersecurity
One of the best ways to keep your information safe online is to make sure your computer isn’t compromised. While some viruses might only lead to some extra ads, others are much more malicious and are used to allow others to steal your information. As such, it’s wise to invest in a worthwhile cybersecurity program for the computer(s) that you use regularly.
5. Only Shop on Your Computer
While you can take extra steps to keep your personal computer and the information on it safe, the same can’t be said when you use a public computer. As such, entering your card information on a public computer is one of the fastest ways to put it at risk. So, don’t go online shopping the next time you use the computers at the library.
In addition, you should be sure to log out of any websites you log into on a public computer.
6. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
If you’re using public wifi, you are even more at risk that what you are doing will be tracked and hacked. As such, it’s best to avoid giving out personal information even on your personal computer if you are connected to the internet via public wifi. That means you should probably wait the next time you want to make an Amazon purchase while you’re hanging out in your favorite coffee shop.
7. Use a Credit Card
It isn’t often that you’re told that using a credit card is your best option but when you are shopping online it just might be. This is because credit card companies take measures against risk in the form of zero-liability clauses and fraud protection.
This differs from a debit card because these often aren’t offered with a debit card. While a bank may do everything in their power to help you cancel a compromised card, they probably won’t make up for your losses. While a credit card company might strike fraudulent charges from your debt, if money is taken from your bank account, you aren’t likely to get it back.
8. Be Careful of Apps
Today, many retailers have apps that make online shopping easier. Unfortunately, not all of these apps on the market are legitimately by the retailers that they claim to be. Before you download an app and definitely before you make any purchases, conduct some research to see if the app in question is legitimate.
9. Virtual Credit Cards
A newer security idea is the use of virtual credit cards. These are credit card numbers are issued by some financial institutions that allow you to make a single purchase with them. Unlike a regular credit or debit card, these numbers can’t be stolen for repetitive use. This means that even if you were to have this information compromised, you can’t really have it used against you.
10. Sign Up for Account Alerts
Finally, sign up for account alerts when the options is offered by your bank or credit card provider. This way, if anything were to happen to your card, you could prevent further damage from being done.
As mentioned before, many credit card providers offer fraud protection and include zero-liability clauses in their contracts. This protects you from any negative repercussions if your card does get compromised in any way.
If you get a notification for a transaction you don’t recognize, you should call your bank or credit card company immediately. They will likely help you shut down your current card so it can’t be misused further and help you get a new one. At this point, it would also be wise to change your passwords so your new card information is automatically accessed by others.