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Is it secure to use my credit card online?
"Is it secure to use my credit card for online transactions?"
This is a question many internet shoppers have had on their minds over the past few years. A question that's likely to linger on well into the future.
In each of the years 2007 & 2008, there were around 8 million Identity Theft victims in U.S alone. This figure doesn't include consumers who have compromised their credit unknowingly, those who've visited phishing sites, and those who've had their credit cards stolen. It's just a figure saying how many individuals reported a verifiable instance of unauthorized account or credit applications on their credit reports.
As mentioned earlier, a lot of credit cards are at risk of being used fraudulently, but this is simply a normal aspect of doing business on credit. There's no one way to neither stop online fraud nor prevent thieves from securing your information as the leak might not even be from your end. For example, online shopping on an e-commerce site created by Jack & Bills who really don't know what they're doing could lead to exposing the credit card details of customers if any of the web page or server is not encrypted or is encrypted but de-encrypted at the payment processing stage. Another situation comes to mind when the server used by Jack & Bills is compromised by a hacker.
Your online experience with credit cards cannot be made secure beyond all reasonable doubt, but within the last couple of years, credit card companies, and the major card networks such as MasterCard, VISA, American Express or Discover have done a lot to reduce fraud to manageable levels.
Phishing occurs when a website is duplicated for fraudulent purposes. Web sites usually duplicated are often the e-commerce, bank, PayPal, and other site you've done business with in the past. - Don't think someone is out to get you; phishing is more or less a try your luck game for the doer. Once the duplicated site is up and running, spam mails are delivered to as many persons as possible using an email extractor and bulk senders in the hope that someone will fall for the folly.
An easy way to reduce the occurrence of giving out information on phished web pages is to use a Browser with phishing protection enabled. The latest and popular browsers (IE 7, Opera 9.5, and Mozilla) should have this feature although it may not be enabled when newly installed. If your browser possesses not anti-phishing feature, consider installing Internet Security software - is a more encompassing software which usually includes an antivirus, anti-phishing browser add-on and a firewall.
Preventing Internet Fraud
Protecting your credit card while online cannot be achieved simply by enabling phishing on your browser so here are a few extra ways to compliment anti-phishing browsers for a secure web experience whenever your credit cards are involved:
Purchase from Credible Merchants
Everything that involves online shopping should be done using merchants you can trust. Don't just go on a search engine and find the cheapest deal out there, rather, find the cheapest deal that's from a known e-commerce site. Also, it's better to shop from sites nearer your location but best when they reside within the U.S. Check the merchants home or contact page for evidence of a physical address and tel. no. If you aren't still convinced, a background check using search engines and consumer forums should be the next thing on your mind.
Use a Controlled Payment Number
A controlled payment number is simply a number that is valid for one or more transactions but differs from the actual credit card number. These numbers are called different names based on the bank and credit card company in question, Bank of America uses the term (ShopSafe), Citibank uses Virtual Account Numbers, and Discover - Secure Online Account Numbers. Consumers using credit cards can go on a secure bank web site to create a controlled payment number valid for just one transaction. If the CPN number is compromised afterwards, the transaction is blocked.
Restrict Credit Card Usage
Credit cards can often be restricted from being used outside your country of residence except where the issuer is given prior notification.
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