How To Protect Yourself When Shopping Online


With data breaches affecting millions of people every day, here are some card-specific tips to keep in mind when virtually spending your hard-earned money.

  • Many credit cards will have an additional layer of security that might not be enabled by default. Entering a one-time code every time you make a transaction can be a little annoying but it will keep you safe. Check with your bank or financial institution to see if you can get this second layer of authorization.
  • Prepaid cards allow you to load a set amount of money at the time of purchase. The advantages are plentiful when it comes to using a prepaid card for online shopping. Even if the card's details are compromised, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be taken.
  • Some banks and financial institutions let you generate a virtual credit card number. This is a single-use number linked to your real card that often has a fixed spending limit and an expiry date. Even if a merchant is compromised and your details are exposed, thieves only get this temporary number.
  • While many banks have sophisticated monitoring systems designed to detect fraud and unauthorized credit card use, it's important to keep an eye on your financial statements. If you spot anything suspicious, call your bank immediately. You can consider letting your bank know the geographical area in which you do your online shopping and to block other areas. Then a purchase done from another country or region will be considered illegitimate.
  • Reduce the chance of falling victim to a large-scale breach by not allowing the retailer to store your credit card details. Enter your credit card details each time you make a purchase. Don’t let your browser store your credit card details either – turn off your browser's autocomplete settings.
    • In Chrome, go to Settings and select Advanced. Under the Passwords and Forms section, click Autofill settings. Delete any credit card information that is automatically stored, then toggle off the option to use autofill.
    • In Firefox, go to Preferences. Find the Privacy panel and look for the History drop-down box. Choose ‘Use custom settings for history’ and then uncheck ‘Remember search and form history’.
    • In Safari, go to Preferences, AutoFill. Uncheck the options to remember form data, including the credit card option.
    • In Edge, select the More Actions button, then Settings and View advanced settings. Uncheck the save form entries toggle.
  • Make sure you use a separate password for every account you make with an online retailer. A password manager is the easiest way to generate and store unique passwords.
  • Don't type your details in public where people can see your screen. Also, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks if you're shopping on a mobile device; use your cellular data instead.
  • Not every app is legitimate. Double-check before downloading to make sure it's from the real merchant. A lack of reviews on the app store, typos in the description, etc. are red flags.

The golden rules are:

  1. Use a credit card. Debit cards often don't have the same level of fraud prevention and protection.
  2. Only enter details on secure sites. Look for an https connection and valid security certificates.
  3. Don't send credit card details over email or social media to anyone.
  4. Keep your antivirus software and browsers up to date.
  5. Avoid clicking on links from emails as that may be a phishing attempt.

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