Staying safe and secure on the Internet means following the same rules you would to visit your local mall: Keep your wallet safe and stick to the places you know and trust.
Want to keep your cards and data as secure as possible while shopping online? Here are a few tips to help:
- Do a Security Check. Look for clues that a shopping site is secure–these include:
- an “s” at the start of the URL (https:// rather than the standard http://)
- an unbroken key symbol or a closed padlock, which might be found at the bottom of your browser screen
- membership in Internet security programs, such as BBBonline, Verisign, and TRUSTe.
- Buy from trusted retailers.
Check out a little-known retailer before buying. Look for a physical address, working phone number, and e-mail address, and do a search online by entering the store’s name and “reviews.”
- Use your own computer.
Don’t enter personal information, particularly a credit card number, on public computers in hotel lobbies and libraries.
- Review your credit card statements and transaction activity.
Check credit card activity frequently to make sure no unauthorized purchases show up, especially after you shop online. You don’t have to wait until the monthly statement arrives–you can usually view recent transactions by logging into your account online
- Use hard-to-crack passwords.
Tough passwords include lowercase and capital letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers. Avoid using real words in any language. Crooks use special software programs to wage “dictionary attacks” that guess easy passwords.
Credit cards are safer to use online than debit cards because they provide stronger liability protection in case of fraud and better ability to dispute purchases. Still, even if your credit card has a zero liability policy, fraud costs you time to clear up. Save yourself from hassle and guard your credit card on the web.