When you shop and store your credit card information online, you put the security of your card information in the hands of someone else. Furthermore, the information is being transmitted over a connection and may be going into the hands of a malicious company if you shop on untrustworthy sites.
You can think of it like purchasing cars from car dealers. If you go to the wrong one, then the shady guy might be screwing you over when you think you’re getting a great buy… except with handing over credit card information.
If you’re going to shop online then you should be at least somewhat careful while making real purchases. Here are some best practices to help keep yourself and your information secure.
- Give preference to reputable companies. It doesn’t take much for any guy to set up an online store but it also doesn’t take much for someone to setup a credible looking scam. If you’ve never heard of the website or company, then do a little background research before buying. Find out who these guys are with a Google search.
- Watch the web addresses or URLs of the sites that you visit. Most reputable sites will intentionally use short and clean names. If you see a name that is trying to imitate a major company then it should draw at least a little suspicion.
- Shop on sites that use the HTTPS protocol. You can see that the site has https by looking at the very start of the URL. Depending on your browser, a reputable company will also buy a verified SSL certificate which may be presented by a locked padlock. Each browser is a little different though. If you see that a site has a verified SSL certificate and HTTPS protocol then you can know that your transaction and credit card information is going to a website that has been authenticated and not a fake man in the middle.
- If you want to be vigilant about protecting your credit card information, then you can usually remove it from the website after you use it once. Sites like Amazon.com or Newegg.com offer to store your credit card information so that you don’t need to reenter it on every reuse, but that does mean that it’s available in one more place. For many people, the convenience is worth having their credit card information out there since these sites are fairly secure. It’s up to you whether you want to keep it stored for reuse or not.