|IT’S STILL the question on everyone’s mind. Is it actually safe to use your credit card for Internet shopping?|
IT’S STILL the question on everyone’s mind. Is it actually safe to use your credit card for Internet shopping? We’ve already discussed this issue a number of times, but new reports emerge every once in a while to reaffirm our biggest fear: It’s still not safe! To be more precise, it’s only as safe as the nature of the credit card security systems that shopping sites utilize.
If the ‘explosion’ in credit card fraud worldwide is anything to go by, its pretty easy to deduce that very few sites are actually secure.
What adds to your headache is that you need to figure out which are the ones that incorporate an advanced, secure ecommerce system, and which ones don’t! That hassle is necessary, the problem is that most users don’t have the basic know-how to find out. After all, who knows the names or features of credit-card/ecommerce systems? Very few users, compared to the millions who shop online.
Another problem is that ‘common’ sense does not necessarily apply. It’s tempting to believe that the biggest, best-established shopping sites have security all figured out.
But judging from frequent reports of those major sites being hacked and customer information compromised, it’s obviously not the case! What you need to do is look for privacy or security statements on the site. Read through them, understand the level of commitment the site operators give to security, ask around and find out whether anyone you know has suffered from fraud on that site—after using it for a while—and the most essential advice is to use a low-ceiling credit card number; that is, a credit card especially designed for Internet shopping.
Also, it’s worth checking out if the web site you’re buying from has the resources to invest in the advanced security technology needed.
Avoid sites that don’t post clear privacy and security policies or contact information, including a physical street address and working phone number. When you inspect a site’s security policies, look for assurances that information is encrypted on all servers connected to the Net and that security tools are in place to protect applications—like the shopping cart. If the policy doesn’t say, ask the site’s administrator for clarification.
Consider the pros and cons carefully before permitting a site to store your credit card information for future purchases.
Consider the vast quantity of personal information a determined hacker can obtain on the Internet; your name, address, e-mail account, phone number, credit card information, passwords and you have an environment that’s ripe for theft.
A recent study by Gartner Group predicts “a wave of small-scale e-commerce theft within the next two years”. According to the study, many recent hack attacks on e-commerce sites can be traced to Russia. FBI reports affirm this fact, adding that stolen credit card information may have been sold to organized crime rings operating in Eastern Europe.
The report doesn’t say much about the Middle East, but its worth being careful, because the Internet transcends boarders.
The vast majority of transactions go through without a hitch. But shop safely. And if you come across a site whose security you don’t trust, let the administrator know why you won’t shop there. Online retailers will take security seriously when you demand it. Ultimately, online security breaches are more harmful to merchants than to consumers.
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