Credit card fraud seems to be everywhere, and thieves love using the internet to steal people’s credit card information, due to the anonymity it provides. Many consumers think the only way to protect themselves is to just avoid shopping online all together. Although that is one way to avoid one’s credit card information from being stolen, it also means one can never shop online again. The online marketplace for goods and services is growing at a rapid pace because consumers know they can quickly find the best deals when shopping online. By just not shopping online anymore, one would be giving up on all these great deals. Using this method to avoid credit card fraud is like deciding never to fly in a plane again to avoid terrorists. True, one would not become a victim in any terrorist plot that involved planes, but that also means having to deal with the inconvenience of not being able to fly when traveling. Like anything else in life, the key is not to avoid the problem, but to understand the problem and to adopt a smart strategy to minimize the risk of being a victim to credit card fraud while shopping online.
First, let’s talk about steps one can take if credit card fraud has already happened. There is no need to panic. Once the cardholder reports that his or her credit card information has been compromised, the credit card company will not hold the cardholder liable for any fraudulent charges, even for charges made before reporting the credit card information has been stolen. The credit card company will shut down that card from further use and issue a new card in about a week or two, but this is still an inconvenience most people would still rather not want to deal with, if possible.
Next, online shoppers could utilize Google’s Safe Browsing Tool to check if a website is safe to visit, assuming one trusts Google of course. This tool will report if a website is suspicious or not, when Google last scanned it, if the website done anything suspicious in the past, and report if it is linked to any suspicious websites even if the site itself is not doing anything suspicious. To see if a website is safe, simply copy and paste “http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=” into the address field on the browser, and then add the url of the site to be visited. For example, to a company’s website, just enter “http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=websiteurlhere.com” into the address bar of the browser being used. Once this is entered, Google’s tool will bring up a simple half page report on whether the site in question is in fact safe or not.
Another layer of protection one can use when shopping online, is to use trusted 3rd party payment methods. Just about everyone has heard of PayPal. They are probably the most widely used 3rd party payment method in the world. They allow for customers to make payment for goods and services through them. For example, this means when a customer buys something, she is not directly paying the website that she is shopping on. She is paying the amount due to PayPal, and then PayPal pays the merchant, which means the merchant never sees her credit card information and her credit card information was never transmitted over the internet during this transaction. It does not matter if the customer shops at one website or a hundred websites. As long, as a 3rd party payment method was used, credit card information was never transmitted so, that information is not floating around on online at each website a purchase was made. Other 3rd party payment methods similar to PayPal include, Google Wallet and Amazon Payments.
Armed with this information, online shoppers can now make sure the websites they visit are safe to shop on, and also avoid entering sensitive information when purchasing. So, there is no need to pass up all the great deals when shopping online due to fear of credit card information being stolen.