Do You Know How to Use Your Credit Card Online Safely?

by : Scott Stadler

All too often, we hear stories about the nightmares of identity theft, fraudulent credit card use, and other serious crimes of cyberspace. While it would be irresponsible to dismiss these issues completely, sometimes the problems that can come with online shopping get more attention than they really deserve. By knowing just how to use your credit card online safely, you can eliminate most of the risk factors altogether.

Using a Credit Card Online is Safe.

Think about this - when you use your credit card at a restaurant or similar offline establishment, there are a number of people who handle your card, sometimes for lengthy amounts of time. Through old fashioned pen and paper or with sophisticated magnetic reader technology, they can easily swipe the card's details in practically no time at all.

But when you use your credit card to pay for something online, you are actually bypassing this extra person handling your sensitive information by inputting the data directly yourself. It always pays to be aware of whom you're dealing with, but using your credit online can potentially be even safer than using it offline.

Is the Seller Reputable?

As a precaution, it is important to know just who you're dealing with online. If you happen to be completing a transaction with a company that has a famous name you're already familiar with, chances are you are already protected. These big companies do have a reputation to uphold and are generally expected to have higher standards while dealing with sensitive information such as your credit card account details.

But if there's any question or you're not completely sure who you're dealing with, it's time to use a few simple investigative skills. First, look for an 800 number and give it a ring to get a better feel for the legitimacy of the company. If they pass that test, consider searching for them with your favorite search engine - try typing "reviews" after their business name.

Of course, another reliable resource is always the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If there are still any doubts after your own mini investigation, then it's best to walk away before sharing any personal information.

Make Sure the Transaction is Secure.

Part of knowing how to use your credit card online safely is making sure any personal details or information you tender are secure and encrypted. This means that your credit card number and the like are scrambled and locked as you send them and only the other party in the transaction can unlock them. Potential hackers or identity thieves that might intercept the data as you send it across the internet will only see unreadable code.

You can tell if your credit card data is secure online by looking for the little padlock icon in your web browser as soon as you get to the point where you start filling in the order information such as your name and address. It's usually found in either the upper right hand corner or the lower right hand corner of the web browser's window.

Try One Time Use Credit Card Numbers.

Looking for that extra level of security? If so, many credit card companies offer special one time use credit card numbers that can be safely used online. You simply log in to your account online and navigate to the one time use feature where they'll instantly generate a credit card number that's linked to your account but can be used only once before it is rendered useless. This assures that the credit card data shared online can exclusively be used for what you intend it to be used for and nothing else.

In conclusion, remember that using a credit card online is often safer than using it anywhere else. Knowing how to use your credit card online safely for the most part simply requires you to be aware of whom you're dealing with. But don't fret needlessly - credit card issuers will generally stand behind their customer if problems do arise.