Credit card fraud seems to be everywhere, and thieves love to use the Internet to steal people’s credit card information, because of the anonymity it provides. Many consumers think that the only way to protect themselves is to avoid online shopping all together. Although this is one way to avoid having your credit card information stolen, it also means that one can never shop online again. The market for goods and services online is growing at a rapid pace because consumers know that they can quickly find the best deals when shopping online. Once you don’t shop online anymore, one might forgo all these great deals. Using this method to avoid credit card fraud is like deciding to never fly again to avoid terrorists. True, one wouldn’t become a victim of any terrorist plot involving aircraft, but that also meant having to deal with the inconvenience of not being able to fly when traveling. Like everything else in life, the key is not to avoid the problem, but to understand the problem and adopt a smart strategy to reduce the risk of experiencing credit card fraud while shopping online.
First, let’s talk about the steps one can take if credit card fraud does occur. There is no need to panic. Once a cardholder has been informed that their credit card information has been compromised, the credit card company will not hold the cardholder liable for any fraudulent charges, even for charges made prior to the credit card information being reported stolen. The credit card company will lock that card from further use and issue a new one in about a week or two, but that’s still an inconvenience that most people would still prefer not to deal with, if possible.
Then, online shoppers can use Google’s Safe Browsing tool to check if a website is safe to visit, assuming, of course, that someone trusts Google. This tool will report if a website was suspicious, when Google last checked it, if the site has done anything suspicious in the past, and report if it is linked to any suspicious websites even if the site itself isn’t doing anything suspicious. To check if a website is safe, just copy and paste “http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=” into the address field of your browser, then add the url of the site to visit. For example, for a company’s website, simply enter “http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=websiteurlhere.com” into the address bar of the browser being used. Once you enter this, the Google tool will display a simple half-page report on whether or not the site in question is safe.
Another layer of protection one can use when shopping online is the use of trusted third-party payment methods. Almost everyone has heard of PayPal. It is probably the most widely used third party payment method in the world. It allows customers to pay for goods and services through them. For example, this means that when a customer buys something, they don’t pay directly to the website they’re shopping through. She pays the amount owed to PayPal, and then PayPal pays the merchant, which means her credit card information was never seen by the merchant and her credit card information was never transmitted over the Internet during this transaction. It does not matter if the customer is shopping in one site or in a hundred. As long as a third-party payment method is used, the credit card information is never transmitted, so this information is not circulated on the Internet at every website a purchase is made. Other third-party payment methods similar to PayPal include Google Wallet and Amazon Payments.
Armed with this information, online shoppers can now ensure that the websites they visit are safe to shop, as well as avoid entering sensitive information when making a purchase. So, there is no need to miss out on all the great deals when shopping online because of the fear of credit card information being stolen.