More and more of us are enjoying the benefits of shopping online. It’s easy and convenient; there’s no need to leave your sofa! Deliveries are fast too, with some retailers now offering same-day delivery. Plus, it’s a socially distant and COVID-19-safe way of making your necessary purchases. With some great credit card offers out there, online shopping is booming.
But is it safe? The answer is yes, as long as you take some simple precautions and know the dos and don’ts of online shopping. Read on to find out all you need to know about keeping your funds safe and secure when making online purchases, as well as three crucial steps that credit card companies are taking to ensure your protection.
How could safety be compromised?
To use your credit card, fraudsters don’t necessarily need to have the card in their hands. They can still use your card if they know enough about it. Here are the different ways they can find your details:
By stealing your card
Some thieves still use the old-fashioned way of taking your card from your bag, pocket or car. Making purchases online does not require a PIN, so once they have your card, they have everything they need to use it. It is also possible to steal a credit card by intercepting it in the mail.
By intercepting your information
Some fraudsters find out all they need to know by taking your information when you use the card yourself. Opportunistic criminals may overhear you giving credit card details over the phone or possibly even watch over your shoulder when you pay for something online. Details can also be intercepted online. This can be done through spyware on shared or public computers or through a non-secure public Wi-Fi connection.
By finding your credit card information
It is sometimes also possible to take advantage of old receipts. Fraudsters may find enough information on these to make purchases online or over the phone. Some people have also been victims of credit card fraud when they’ve given their card details to a trusted person via email but then have had their account hacked. Alternatively, hackers can fraudulently use online accounts where you have auto-stored card details.
By skimming your details
The criminal act of skimming involves planting a device in a cash machine. This collects and stores details from cards used by their rightful owners. The criminals use these details to make online or telephone purchases later.
Credit card companies- How they are working to protect you
When you consider the ways thieves operate, owning a credit card might suddenly feel a little daunting. Do not fear, however, because credit card companies work very hard to stay one step ahead of criminals and to be able to offer secured online shopping.
Here are some of the sophisticated techniques they use to counteract fraudsters.
- 24/7 Monitoring:
Rest assured that credit card companies are continually monitoring your card use. State-of-the-art technology can immediately flag transactions that seem unusual. They’ll spot if your card is used in a strange location, if your card is being used to make an unusually large purchase, or if it is being used for a high volume of purchases. Your bank will then immediately be in contact with you to check that it is you making the purchases. Thieves can be halted very quickly this way.
2. Card Verification Codes (CVC):
CVC codes are frequently needed to make online and telephone purchases. The CVC code is the number printed on the back of your card within the signature strip. It can help prevent fraud because a person must have the card in their presence to be able to complete the transaction. Merchants are forbidden to store CVC codes by global banking standards, which increases their protective power.
3. 3D Secure Authentication
This is a system used by both Mastercard (Mastercard Securecode) and Visa (Verified by Visa). It offers another layer of protection to users of their cards. 3D Secure Authentication asks users to complete an extra step to prove their identity. When you make an online payment, you may be redirected to a secure web page belonging to your credit card provider. Here, you will need to fill in a one-time code sent to your previously registered phone number. If this is entered correctly, then you are returned to the retailer’s page to complete your transaction.
How you can help keep your account safe and secure
Banks and credit companies work hard to keep their customers safe and to prevent fraud. However, there are still some steps card users can and should take to make sure online shopping is as safe as possible.
Here are 12 quick and easy tips for taking action:
- Review your account regularly to make sure all transactions have been initiated by you.
- Always know where your card is so if it is stolen, you realise as soon as possible.
- Never send emails, social media messages or texts that contain your card details.
- Do your online or telephone shopping in a private place where you can’t be overheard or overlooked by strangers.
- Alert your credit card company if a new card is slow to arrive.
- Never write down PINs and passwords or store them on your phone.
- Keep credit card receipts in a safe place and always shred them before discarding them.
- Do not use public or shared computers or public Wi-Fi for online transactions.
- Regularly update your firewall, as well as your antivirus and anti-spyware software.
- Destroy old cards by cutting these into small pieces and always through the magnetic strip.
- Resist the temptation to store your card details on merchant websites.
- Always check if a website is secure before using it for online purchases.
Not sure how to check the security of a website? Here’s how.
How to check if a website is safe to buy from
Here are five tips for checking if a website is secure:
- Look for the HTTPS at the beginning of the site’s URL. The “s” signifies it is certified as secure.
- Look for a “trust seal” which shows that the website works with a security partner. You should be able to click on this image and be led to the security partner’s verification page.
- Be aware of duplicated sites where a fraudster has imitated another site. These can sometimes be convincing, but more often are littered with mistakes and don’t look quite right.
- Check that the website displays contact information.
When you use a reputable credit card company, you are in safe hands. Everything possible is being done to prevent fraud and protect your funds. Follow the advice above and you should be free to enjoy all the convenience and ease of online shopping without worries.
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Dr Bernd van Linder is the CEO of Commercial Bank of Dubai. His comprehensive view of banking comes from a long career in treasury, risk management, and strategic operations — all essential aspects to leading an efficient and profitable bank. Over the decades, CBD has transformed into a progressive and modern banking institution, and today offers a full range of financial services to help customers build and manage their finances.