Safety Tips For Using Your Credit Card To Shop Online

Today, people are going to the internet for all of their needs.  From gifts for the holidays to the replacement dish they need for their microwave.  No matter what you are looking to purchase, you’ll likely find it offered online.  But, can shopping online be safe?  Can you really trust using a credit card online?  Isn’t this where identity theft happens the most often?  There are many reasons why shopping online may be safer than shopping locally.  Nevertheless, you need to know how to be safe when you do just that.

Why’s It Safer?

A misconception is that shopping online is like giving the world your credit card number.  That is simply not the case.  While problems can happen, it is rare that they do so easily.  In fact, if you trust the waiter that you’ve never met before to walk away for five minutes with your credit card in hand, then you should be just fine with shopping online.  Yet, if you want to be safe, you’ll have to follow some rules.

Keeping Yourself Safe

One of the first things you should do is consider what you know about the company that you are buying from.  The safest bets are those companies that you have heard about.  Shopping at these websites is often much less worrisome because you know the company is trustworthy.  Its an easy choice, then, right?

But, what if you want to purchase something unique and different that you’ve found but you don’t know about the company that’s selling it?  Don’t worry, you can purchase from them too.  But, before you do, its important for you to invest a few minutes in learning more about the person or company that you plan to do business with.  First off, they should be easily contactable.  You should have a phone number to call and verify that the company is legit.  If they only have an email address, avoid them. 

Another thing to consider is just what you are getting.  If you think you’re going to get these great autographed sneakers for just $20 bucks, you’re probably in the wrong place.  Either they are anything but what you thought they would be or the person selling them is really after just what you are going to give them, your personal information.  In other words, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is just that.

Be Smart And Know Your Sites

There are other things you can do to make sure that you are protected when you are shopping online. 

  • Look at the URL of the page that you are on.  Does it start with http or https?  The “S” at the end is something you are looking for when you reach a page that requires you to log in or to input your credit card information.  Never enter your credit card information into a website without this.
  • Is there a closed padlock on the page someplace?  You should see this or a key on the page someplace.  This too signals that the site is secure for you to enter your information.
  • If the URL starts with a bunch of numbers, leave the site.  These are generally scamming websites and should be avoided.

These things will help you to know if the website that you are on is using a safe website so that others can’t get in.  But, remember, this does not mean that the company itself is trustworthy.  A tip to learn this is to find that phone number of the company and give them a call.  When you get a real person on the line, someone that claims to own the business or is an authority there, ask them what their privacy policy is regarding credit cards.  If they can’t answer you, shop elsewhere.

Consider The Virtual Option

There are several credit card companies, such as Citi and Discover Card that actually provide their customers with a virtual credit card number.  It is a virtual credit card account in which there can not be any identity theft or fraud taking place.

Making Sure It Makes Sense

Finally, when you are considering paying with a credit card over the internet you should use common sense.  There is never a reason to provide your date of birth to a merchant online.  You also never should have to provide your social security number.  These things coupled with your credit card number are a prime way they can steal your identity. 

When it comes to purchasing online, make sure that you use a credit card over anything else as it is the most protected product you can use.  Be smart about whom you are buying from and you are sure to have no problems.