How to Shop Safely Online

By: Matthew Lloyd

Shopping online with your credit card is fraught with risk and you should take extreme care while doing so. Below are some tips you must ensure that you follow while surfing the Web and visiting ecommerce sites.

Avoid Online Transactions
While it is un-avoidable at times, try to minimize risks at all quarters and use your credit card sparingly. If you see yourself using your card frequently, then avoid using a credit card with unlimited credit. Keep a card especially for online shopping. It should have a low spending limit which will reduce financial losses if the card details are ever abused or if they fall into the wrong hands.

Check for the Padlock
At the bottom right of your browser, you should see a small lock closed shut. If it is open or you don't see, avoid using your credit card on that site. Padlocked sites are secure since they normally use 128 bit encryption.

Transact Only at Reputed Sites
If you are an online rookie, avoid using your card online. Ask friends for referrals and only shop at reputed sites. Amazon, e-Bay, MSN, Yahoo, PayPal are some of the good sites, even so, no one can give you a 100% guarantee that your credit card details are completely secure.

Check Other Details of the Site
Does the site honour the distance selling law which means it offers a cooling off time, a confirmation of your order and precise information about what you have ordered and when you have done so? What does the site do with all the information you have submitted to it? Scour the site and read the fine print minutely before your surrender your credit card details. You must remember to check if the site is a part of TrustUK which ensures it is following standard security norms.

Avoid Offers that are Too Good to be True
If something looks to good to be true, it normally is. If a site offers you an incredible holiday, a free car, or a free anything, in exchange for your credit card details for 'verification purposes', then it's a scam. Exercise extreme caution if any site, popup or popunder requests your credit card details. Once they get hold of your personal details, there is no saying what will happen next.

Run a Virus Check before Using your Card
The danger may lurk offline in your PC itself! Key loggers, trojans, worms, spyware and all sorts of ugly nasty codes may be lurking in your computer. They transmit your information to hackers who are just waiting to abuse your details. So invest in a good anti-virus software as well as a reputed anti-spyware, update it regularly, and always scan your computer before using your card online.

By following these recommendations and using your judgement you should be able to minimise risk when you shop online.

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