Privacy and identity theft concerns are the reason some people are still reluctant to shop online using a credit or debit card. However, it can actually be safer purchasing online rather than in-store. This is because when you use your bank card online at a safe and trusted website, your credit or debit card information is likely never to be seen by human eyes. Also, you’re entering your information onto a page that is encrypted, which means it is encoded in a way that can’t be easily accessed by unauthorised people, hackers or thieves.
But that doesn’t mean that all online shopping websites are safe. It’s important for you to take care to ensure that your online experience is as safe as possible.
1 - Read your bank statements
Always check your bank card statements thoroughly when you receive them. The benefits of online banking means that obtaining bank statements can now be hassle-free to get hold of online or at the touch of a button through a mobile app. If you see anything that doesn’t seem right, contact your credit or debit card issuer immediately.
2 - Make sure the site is a reputable company that you know and trust
Large companies with proven reputations like Amazon, Apple and Marks and Spencer, for example, are probably trustworthy to buy from online using your debit or credit card. Small, unknown companies with suspicious, unprofessional looking websites may not be. Do your research.
3 - Check the URL Address
When you’re in the online purchasing section of a website, check the URL address bar to make sure that you see the letter “s” in the URL. It should read: https://, not just http://. The “s” means you are on a secure, encrypted site. Secure sites will also have a small lock icon in the URL.
4 - Shop online through your own trusted devices
Shop online from your home computer, mobile or tablet, not on a public computer at work, the library or in an internet café. If you wish to use your phone or tablet, do not use the public, free Wi-Fi carry your personal, sensitive information as the network can be insecure. Using free Wi-Fi on an unsecure network may sometimes require entering your email address to access the internet, so you are potentially exposing your own information which could be obtained by cyber criminals.
You don’t have control over who else has access to a public computer or the public Wi-Fi. You also don’t know if the shared computer has been protected against or infected with spyware or malware – you could run the risk of having personal information stolen by hackers.
5 - Think about storing your bank card information online
Many online stores will give you the option of storing your bank card information on their sites in order to make it easier and faster for you to shop there in the future. While reputable sites will always do everything possible to protect your personal information, it’s still possible for them to be hacked. If your information is stored with them and they experience a security breach, it could be compromised.
6 - Never reveal your PIN
You should never reveal your PIN number when shopping online, and no reputable company will ask you for it.
Online shopping can be a convenient way to buy just about anything from the comfort of your own home. Taking the right precautions when using your debit or credit card to shop can help keep you safe and secure online.
For more information on card security when purchasing online, visit The Money Advice Service.