Shopping Online

Shopping Online

Everyone here answers the phone, and a lot of people we talk to do not like the idea of putting their credit card information online. The perception, I believe, is that the number is sent off unsecured into cyberspace being viewed by anyone computer savvy enough, through the card number’s travel.

Well this is true and not true. As a number one rule never give your credit card number to a website that doesn’t have a secure connection. This is identified by one of two things an “S” at the end of “http” (https) or a padlock in the lower right portion of your I.E. browser. This doesn’t mean if you go to a website and you don’t see either of these indications of a secure connection, that you’re unsafe. Let me explain, you really only should see these signs when you go to check out, this is, where you are putting your sensitive information (billing information). With this security in place your transaction is safer than handing a clerk your card at a department store.

All of this in mind, let’s talk about some other things you can do to protect yourself online and be a safe as possible. There are a couple of things on your end that you can do to stop the possibility of online theft. Two things you can do and we’ve talked about before is only work with reputable sites in good standings with the BBB. What type of card and how you use it can be a huge barrier for would be thieves as well. For instance, it’s better to use a true credit card and not a debit card for online shopping. Better yet, dedicate one credit card to nothing but online sales.

The credit card manufacturers also offer online protection for your safety. They use security features like generating an extra number just for that transaction or have lists of vendors that support their own security measures. There is also Paypal which is very popular—it has thousands of supported vendors, and works well. You basically put money into your Paypal account and then pay for online orders out of that account basically utterly stoping the possibility of theft.

Discover Card has, without a doubt, one of the best online security features of all the major credit card players. They have something called “single use card numbers”. Here’s basically how it works: When you find something you want to get online, you simply find the total out. From there you activate their software and Discover will generate a single use credit card number for you. This number is then invalid and of no use to anyone. This is a great idea and it doesn’t matter if the vendor you’re purchasing from accepts this feature or not, all you have to worry about is it supporting Discover card—no extra support.

I would have to say that VISA has the next best online shopping protection, with a password feature. When you go online and make a transaction a window will pop up and ask you for a password to approve the payment. This sounds great but vendors have to comply, which means this can hurt the amount of online vendors that actually support this feature. VISA does have a lot of vendors you can choose from, but it still lacks an all-encompassing secure transaction to anywhere like Discover card.

Mastercard is the same setup as Visa without the vendor support, which makes this feature even more unappealing. MasterCard, from what I could see, didn’t make this process easy for merchants and I think you notice the difference in vendor support. It does you no good to have this security feature activated on your account and have nowhere online authorized to buy from.

American Express Offers absolutely no online purchasing protection, not even a link on the home page about protecting yourself-online. Maybe someone should tell them what their competition is up to, because they haven’t even started the race.

Online purchasing doesn’t have to be filled with fear and doubt. Just by keeping your eyes open and choosing one of the safer methods of payment you can all but eliminate the threat of online theft.

Stay safe out there,

~ Chad

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