Credit card internet services and facilities that are available today are ingenious in combating the growing concerns that most people have regarding fraud and online security. Handing over credit card details to a stranger in any environment can be a worrying prospect, but when you don’t even know on which continent the site owner lives, you can feel perhaps justifiably concerned.
While it is true that there is a considerable amount of credit card fraud in the world today, how worried should you really be, what tips should you follow in order to help safeguard your personal financial details, and what tactics and methods are the credit card companies developing to help increase security and peace of mind?
Payments made using your credit card almost always involve a certain degree of trust. Imagine being at a restaurant and paying for your meal by card. In many cases, the waiter may take your card away and it could be out of your sight for several minutes. You have no guarantee that your details aren’t being recorded and kept for fraudulent use in the future.
Similarly, in many high street stores you may hand your card over, but there is nothing to stop the person behind the counter swiping your card twice, or taking a copy of your card details. Mobile phones have such excellent cameras these days that it is very easy to take a picture of a credit card without the person even realising.
It has even been discovered that, with Chip and PIN security services improving the overall level of security, some people have resorted to using the video facility on a mobile to record the PIN being entered. When you consider the dangers and risks in terms of security which are a fundamental part of using a credit card even in the high street, does the internet pose any more risk, or less?
In truth, credit card internet security is generally better than that found in the high street. For example, your card never leaves your hand, your details are entered only once, and a confirmation receipt is generated for a successful transaction. You can then cross check this with your credit card statement, perhaps even online within hours.
With trillions of bytes of data pounding through the veins of the world-wide-web every second, your credit card details have the advantage of obscurity. It would take an ingenious hacker to be able to pull your credit card details out of the hat, intact and with enough related information to make them useful. To be honest, if a hacker is that clever they’re unlikely to be spending time fishing the web for the occasional credit card, and will most likely have a far more ingenious scam going on.
However, although there is some security in obscurity, there is also a degree of security which can be included that you really must follow carefully. Not all websites have the credit card details transmitted securely, and you need to make sure that any web page you visit which requires your card details to be submitted has a number of security features present.
The first point to note is that the web address should not begin with the letters http, but should begin with https. The extra letter ’s’ at the end stands for ’secure’ and means that the website will securely encrypt your card details, so that even the website owner will be unable to view them, quite apart from any hacker.
But to be doubly careful, look at the bottom right corner of your browser window – if the web page is secure, and your card details encrypted, you should see a small padlock icon. This, in addition to the prefix https, signifies that it is safe to enter your card details.
However, you have to distinguish between the merchant site actually taking your card details and the website that directed you there. When you purchase something online, whether it be an eBook through Clickbank or PayPal, or hard goods from an online store, it is not the online store or the website advertising the product that need be secure, but the site actually taking your card details. That will be run by a bank or other online payment processor such as PayPal, 2-Checkout and so on.
Credit card internet transactions are also covered by the liability legislation which means that payments over a certain amount are protected, and that should anything go awry, the credit card company will be liable for any fraudulent transactions.
Some credit card firms are taking online security still further, and there is one online bank that provides a special online credit card. This is a virtual credit card, the number of which is unique for each transaction. In this way, if you click the ‘buy’ button on a web page, a popup window will appear from your bank with a unique credit card. The number will have been generated for that single transaction, and you can even enter a maximum amount to be allowed for the transaction, avoiding any fraudulent transactions and preventing double processing.
Credit card internet security is an issue we all need to be aware of, but as long as you only enter your details on web pages with the security features clearly visible, you should be far more safe that typing your PIN into a keypad in the high street or handing your credit card to a complete stranger in a shop or bar.