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How to Shop Safely Online

Online credit card fraud is an industry worth billions of dollars each year. Some disgruntled webmasters give out credit card details to rogues. Sometimes, corrupt staff in places like hotels, car rental companies and so on give out or sell these pieces of information to criminals who in turn use them to make unauthorized purchases. Often times, no one has to give the information out. Criminals can hack into a company's network and siphon the credit card details. It seems like I hear of a major company being hacked into every few months.

How did they get hold of my credit card details?

There are risks involved in making both online and phone purchases. There are local and international efforts to stamp out these crimes. However, the war on fraud has entered a stalemate. The good news is that we can do something though. Individually, we can learn how to shop safely online with our credit cards.

Many times, traders take cards and don't deliver the goods. Criminals often buy a long list of credit card details, make large purchases, and sell the goods to get the cash. They can also use pins to create cards and withdraw money. This is old-fashioned as many countries use security chips these days.

Nowadays, credit card details are mostly stolen by phishing scams. Many websites persuade visitors to enter their credit card details. For example, many sites come up with a 'how to make money online' package and have you opt in with a promise of a full return if you don't find the information valuable. Such sites are always prepared to refund your money at your request. The problem is, they will sell your account details, but not until they have tested it first.

How do they test a card?

That is simple. They make a donation that is small enough to pass through the anti-fraud radar without raising an alarm. It is important to alert the authorities whenever your credit card makes any unauthorized donation or payment, no matter how small or negligible it is.

Should I give out my PIN, or CVV2?

No reputable online shop would ask you for your credit card PIN, secret number, banking password, or any bank account details. This is because your card's pin and CVV2 can be used by fraudsters to make direct withdraws of cash. Some sites store the CVV2 even after the transaction is completed. This is illegal. Your CVV2 can get into the wrong hands should the site be attacked. To check to see that your CVV2 was deleted after the transaction ended, try to make a purchase again. If you are not allowed to add the CVV2 yourself or the CVV2 is filled in already, there is a problem.

I have stopped receiving credit card details, is that a problem?

Credit card companies always raise suspicion when a purchase is made to an address not registered with a card. However, it can be a different story if hackers are able to get a hold of your CVV2. With the CVV2, they can change the address. Make sure to contact your bank or credit card company the minute you stop receiving credit card details.

What about 3D secure sites, should I buy only from them?

Forget about the '3D Secure' verification systems that claim to reduce credit card theft. It is only protecting the bankers. The 'Verified by VISA'' or any other descriptions of this kind you see on some sales Web sites are just formalities. Nothing is wrong with a site that is taking part in this verification system. However, this system can't make you more secure.

How do I secure my computer for online shopping?

It is good to have a designated computer for online banking transactions and for online payments. In addition, a good and up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware will help ensure that your username and password do not fall into the wrong hands. To be on the safer side, don't click on links in an email from unknown sources, do not download any freebies, and do not visit adult sites on this designated computer.

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