December 17, 2004

Online Shopping, and Credit Card Security

I keep telling people that it's easier to shop online. And I keep hearing about credit card security, and how bad it is on the Internet.

And I see these same people sit in a restaurant and pay for their meal by credit card. And hand their credit card to a waiter or waitress that they don't even know. Seriously -- with a cheap magnetic strip reader, this person could have your card, and you'd never know it until the charges showed up on your account.

My wife had a card number stolen not long ago -- off the ticket she filled out for a Fed Ex delivery. I've used cards on the Internet all the time, and the only time I've ever had a problem was when someone working at a hotel I was staying at snagged the card number off my receipt (which also had my address and phone number).

Yes, there are scams on the internet. There are scams in real life, too. I don't stay inside all the time, and I'm not going to stop shopping on the 'Net. Here are a few good things to think about:

  • Shop at places you know. Amazon is a great place to shop, and they are secure.
  • Shop places online that you shop in 'real life'. If an internet store has a brick and mortar equivalent, you can be pretty sure they are trustworthy, and are going to be around for a long time.
  • Don't give ANYONE your account number or information by email. REAL companies don't do business this way, only scammers.
  • Look for security. That little padlock in the browser frame is a good sign -- click on it to see how secure things really are. Also look for https:// at the beginning of the site address.
  • Use common sense. Think about what you are doing online.

Follow these tips, especially the last one, and you should be OK shopping online. Now, where did that waiter go with my card?
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