Top Tips for online Credit Card Security

Shopping from your home has become a fast and easy way to get good deals and a wider selection of merchandise but it is important to keep your credit card number and expiry information safe.

It’s likely that your credit card has been issued by one of the main banks in Ireland. As part of the research for this Tips Sheet, we have been unable to find any information regarding their own specific advice on how to safely shop online with your credit card.

Internet Shopping Guarantee
A further notable omission from many of the major credit card issues in this country was the lack of an “Internet Shopping Guarantee”. We’re willing to be corrected on this matter, but for such an important protection to have on a credit card these days, you’d think that if these credit card providers did have such protection on offer that they’d advertise it.

Take, for example, the Egg Card, available in the UK. They tell us that “If you’re worried about shopping online, don’t be. The Egg Card comes with its own Internet guarantee, so whenever you shop with your Egg Card online, we guarantee you’ll be covered against any fraudulent transactions carried out without your consent, whatever the amount.”

The closest we could find in Ireland to such a guarantee is provided by MBNA, who state on their website “There is no liability or excess to pay for theft, loss or fraudulent Internet use – as long as you tell us as soon as your card cannot be found or you notice any unusual transactions on your account.” However, on closer inspection, this is standard practice when you loose your card irrespective of whether it’s used on the internet or in the local supermarket to fraudulently buy beer. So, big deal!!!

So, when using your credit card online, be aware of the following points:-

Reputable Sites – You should only shop and use your credit card on well known sites – either through their online reputation (Amazon, CD Wow, or eBay, etc.) or through their reputation as regular high-street shop (Tesco, Easons, or Arnotts, etc.). Unavailable as far as we can find out in Ireland, but the UK Which? magazine provides a listing of trusted online UK retailers – something also available from an organisation called TrustUK.

Phone or e-Mail follow ups – If you do shop online, and you are contacted for any reason about any kind of problem, do not provide your credit card number via e-mail or to a telephone sales person. Should any such problems arise, the website should have a secure area where changes can be made to fix any problems.

Single “online” credit card – It is sometimes recommended that you have a single credit card, with a relatively low limit, that is only used when purchasing online. The low limit reduces your exposure to online credit card fraud, and your bills will be clearer because of less transactions thereby highlighting any abnormal usage.

Check your credit card bills – Whether you have one credit card, or multiple cards, you should always, always, check your bills each month when you receive them. This is your responsibility as a consumer.

Privacy and Security – You should always confirm before you submit any personal or financial details that you have been brought to a secure part of the retailers web site. You can normally tell this by a padlock sign at the bottom of your browser window, and the web address should begin with https. When making an online purchase, you should always print off your receipt and note the time of purchase and the details you submitted. These will be important if any follow ups are necessary. Finally, for convenience purposes, many sites will offer to “store” your personal details. For extra security, you may chose not to avail of this offer.

Report Stolen or Lost Cards – This is an obvious statement. However, given that it is becoming more prevalent for stolen credit cards to be used on the web, where signatures are not required, you should make sure you report lost or stolen cards immediately. Credit card companies ‘time-stamp’ such reports on your accounts, so that any purchases made after you make your report, won’t be passed on to you. They are fully entitled to pass on the cost of any purchases to you before that time-stamp.

Saved Credit Card Details – Many companies offer you the opportunity to store your credit card details on their site to make it easier to make purchases in future. To prevent the possibility of having hackers steal your credit card details from that site, you should opt out of availing of this facility.

Credit Card Receipts – Don’t discard credit card receipts as these can provide enough information to fraudsters to complete fraudulent credit transactions. This is why sometimes now sites as for the 3-digit number on the back of your card as well – this is only on the card and not reproduced on receipts. This so-called “Card-not-present fraud”, committed over the internet, fax, telephone or by mail order, has increased rapidly.

Always Keep Records – You should always keep confirmation e-mails, and probably more importantly, screen printouts of your order confirmation details, including what you’ve ordered, and confirmation numbers. While acting as a receipt and a reminder, usually these pages also provide telephone contact numbers should any queries arise. Make sure you have both the e-mail address and the terrestrial address and telephone number of the company you’ve ordered from – if you don’t, or they’re not readily available, you should think twice about making your purchase.

Do not use Proxy Servers – Some online service providers, such as AOL or Prodigy, use a device called a proxy server. Proxy servers save copies of sites on their server rather than connecting users to the Internet or the specific site requested. In most cases this works fine. Using a proxy server might sometimes prevent your purchasing transaction from going through correctly, and cause errors to be generated. This could cause your credit card details to remain “hanging in cyberspace”, or may cause you to make multiple submissions to try to complete the transaction. If you do not know if you are accessing the Internet through using a proxy server, contact your Internet service provider.

Pop-Up Windows – Credit card users have been warned to be on the lookout for a new Internet fraud scam. The Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO) said a small number of Irish cardholders had noticed a pop-up screen appearing while they were making purchases online or checking their account details. The pop-up asks customers to key in the expiry date and PIN of their credit card. IPSO said this was clearly a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal details. Customers have been advised not to enter the details on the pop-up screen and to immediately contact their bank or the retailer whose website they are using.

For Further Information – Check the website Irish Stop Fraud website for more information and tips on keeping your credit card save online.

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