5 Tips for Safe Shopping for Using a Credit Card Online

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Just about anything is possible with the Internet. You can book an airline ticket, get a college degree and pay your bills online. And lets not forget the convenience of shopping from your couch. All you need is a computer and a credit card. But while online shopping is a common and well-liked way to buy clothes, shoes, accessories and every other item under the sun, there is no denying the dangers. Skilled thieves know how to hack computers and retrieve debit and credit card information, and many people fall prey to phishing emails. Because of the known risk, you might resolve to never enter your debit or credit card online. But is that really the answer? Yes, there are dangers to using a credit card online. There are, however, also tools to keep your information safe when shopping online. Here are five tips for shopping with a credit card online.

1. Shop at websites you trust

The same way you wouldn’t give your credit card information to a stranger on the street, don’t give this information to any website. Not to say you shouldn’t shop with a new retailer, but it is best to stick with retailers you know and trust. But if you do purchase from a new site, do a little homework. A quick google search can usually reveal known scams, and if any consumer has had issues with the retailer or their website, this information is often online. Plus, a little common sense goes a long way. If you don’t see any security logos, or if the site looks like it was put together in five minutes, move on.

2. Avoid public computers and Internet connections

If you don’t have Internet access at home or if your computer isn’t working properly, you might head to the library or coffee shop and use their public Wi-Fi connection. This is an invitation for trouble. There’s no way to verify the security of public computers and Internet connections, thus putting your credit and debit card information at risk. If you’re going to shop online, do so from home.

3. Don’t use a debit card

If you’re trying to control your debt, you might prefer shopping with a debit card. But in the event of unauthorized transactions, there is better protection with a credit card. If your credit card is stolen, you’re only liable for $50. Although debit cards offer similar protection, this protection is subject to reporting the fraud within two days. Report debit card fraud after this window and you may be liable for up to $500.

4. Check your account carefully

Don’t wait until your statement arrives in the mail to check your account. Register your accounts online and keep an eye on your balances. After you make an online purchase with your credit card, make sure the amount charged to your account matches with your receipt. Even if you don’t regularly use the card, checking your account once or twice a week can catch fraud early.

5. Don’t store credit card information

When buying online, there’s often the option to keep your credit card information on file. This is certainly convenient and results in a faster checkout. But if the retailer’s website is hacked, your credit or debit card number can end up in the wrong hands. Don’t store your information online – it only takes a few seconds to re-enter your credit card number.