How Safe Is Online Credit Card Use?
Internet Security Precautions When Selling and Buying
The Internet and credit cards are a perfect match — or are they? Nowadays, e-commerce companies and their customers alike are struggling with the problem of credit card fraud. Here are some protective measures to consider.
Dodge Those Chargebacks
Having a card number approved by the credit card company doesn’t mean you’re safe. The cardholder could still initiate a chargeback, because the card or card number were stolen. To protect yourself, each time you run a credit card number, check the Address Verification Service response code to see whether the shipping address matches the cardholder’s billing address. If not, look for these red flags:
o An unusually large order,
o A customer requesting express or international shipping,
o An e-mail address that appears to have nothing to do with the customer’s
o An e-mail address that matches the name but comes from a free service.
If you receive a suspicious order, call or e-mail the customer and request the issuing bank’s name and phone number as well as verification of the cardholder’s address and name. A further course of action: Call the credit card company and get the issuing bank’s phone number. They may immediately tell you the card is stolen, or they may be able to tell you whether the customer’s name, address and phone number match the cardholder’s. If they don’t, the cardholder may have no idea the purchase is being made.
8 Essential Buying Precautions
If the shoe is on the other foot and you’re making company purchases online, you also need to protect yourself. Here are eight ways to do so:
1. Always use the latest version of your browser. Up-to-date browsers contain the latest technology. Make sure the site from which you’re purchasing uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a technology invented by Netscape for encoding information transmitted over the Internet. On a site using SSL, the information exchange between you and others is encoded. If intercepted by an unauthorized party, it appears as gibberish.
2. Ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about its security system. Your ISP’s representative should be able to tell you whether its equipment is located in secure buildings. Optic fiber links minimize risks of data pilferage from wiretaps.
3. Look for symbols of security from companies you trust. One example is VeriSign’s Secure Site Seal. You can search for an index of secure sites and see whether those you shop at are listed. When it’s time to enter credit card information, look for a small picture of a padlock in the bottom corner of your computer screen. Another important safeguard to watch for when entering your information is the letters “https” on the address line at the top of the screen — the “s” stands for “secure.”
4. Shop with familiar companies. Larger, better-known companies tend tohave better Web site safeguards because they’re eager to protect their brands. For instance, in correspondence with a buyer, the merchant should encrypt or truncate a portion of the credit card number. Also, more security-conscious retailers are requesting credit card verification code numbers to confirm your identity when you buy something. The identification code appears on the back or front of your credit card. Using the verification number helps prevent crimes in which the credit card is not stolen, but the card owner’s identity is.
5. Scan the Web site for easy-to-find security information and a privacy statement. Reputable Web merchants explain what information they gather, how they use it and how they protect it. Look for a phone number or e-mail address to contact the company with questions about security procedures. If you’ve never before shopped at a site, test the retailer’s response to phone calls or e-mails before ordering merchandise.
6. Keep a record. Most reputable e-commerce sites present you with a summary of your transaction before you enter your credit card information. Print or save this record.
6. Look for information about “cookies.” Many Web sites deposit bits of code, called “cookies,” on your computer. These cookies record data such as the items you bought and the pages you visit. The site automatically checks the cookies for patterns, and may even serve up special content to match your interests when you return. Reputable sites clearly inform you how they plan to use the cookies deposited on your browser.
7. Be extremely careful with passwords and IDs. Change your passwords periodically, and carefully choose new ones. Don’t use obvious words such as your spouse’s or pet’s name. A determined cyber-thief may crack your password just by asking innocuous questions of you, your friends or neighbors. Remember, too, that it’s always a good idea to use long passwords. And it’s harder to hack passwords that include both upper- and lowercase letters. Finally, you might want to obtain your own digital certificate that will let you easily identify yourself to your favorite e-commerce sites.
An easy and safe Internet shopping experience can just be a matter of taking a few basic precautions. Follow them regularly, and they should become second nature.
Go Ahead and Charge — Carefully
If you do it prudently, accepting credit card orders and using your credit cards for online purchases can increase your business and save time and hassle for you and your customers. Just remember to observe the commonsense safeguards we’ve shared. Call us if you have any questions — we’ll be glad to help.
Reputable sites clearly inform you how they plan to use the cookies deposited on your browser.