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Credit Card Safety
By Richard Rost   Richard Rost on LinkedIn Email Richard Rost   5 years ago

Are you concerned about using your credit card online? Are you worried about fraud? Here are some things to consider when shopping online at sites like mine.

First, you should always shop online using a credit card and not a debit card. Most credit cards have excellent consumer protection in place. If you have a fraudulent charge on your account, just report it to your credit card company and it will almost always be removed immediately. Debit cards are a whole different story. I've had fraudulent charges on my debit cards and had to wrestle with my bank for weeks to get my money back. Save those debit cards for emergencies or for taking cash out at an ATM. If you have poor credit and don't qualify for a credit card, get a secured credit card. 

Also, a lot of sites, like mine, accept Paypal. This is an excellent way to prevent your financial info from getting into anyone else's hands. You fund your Paypal account using money from your bank account, then you pay merchants online from your Paypal account. There are a lot similar services now too like Venmo, CashApp, and more that do pretty much the same thing.

What most people don't realize, is that credit card fraud is usually committed by employees at the merchant's location. Whether this is a sales clerk who collects credit card numbers or someone in the back office who looks through the sales database, the theft or carelessness is usually caused by the merchant's employees, not online hackers. It's actually very difficult to "hack" a company's secure database. It's almost always an inside job.

The customer sales data (including credit card information) is usually not very well protected in most normal "brick-and-mortar" businesses. Most point-of-sale systems that you would find in your average stores are not heavily secured. Especially if you're dealing with a "mom and pop" operation. I've had clients keeping their customer credit card data stored in Excel sheets that weren't even password protected!

When you're purchasing online, however, most Internet vendors have tight security on their Web sites. First, you should make sure that the site you're purchasing from as a secure server certificate. This can easily be verified by making sure the little lock icon is present and that the address begins with https and not just http. You may have to click on the address bar itself to see the https as some browsers hide it (why? I don't know). You can click on the lock for more information about that site's security.

When you're dealing with a secure Web site, that means that the information you type into your browser is encrypted so that it cannot be intercepted between your computer and your merchant's Web site. Since most sites are secure now-days, that means that it's almost impossible for hackers to steal your credit card information "en-route."

There is still, however, the possibility that hackers can get into the merchant's web site, but most reputable online merchants have very secure servers. I don't store customer credit card information on my web site. I collect it from you, process the sale, and then immediately that information is transferred OFF of my web site to my secure server in my office that only I have access to. I don't have any employees and nobody but me has access to my customer data. So even if my web site is hacked, all they will get is your name and email address. Your credit card number is in my office database which is secured like a vault. Hey - I'm an Access expert. Databases are kinda what I do. Nobody's hacking my setup.

In a traditional store or restaurant, your credit card number might be visible by several people: the sales clerk, a data-entry person, the store manager, etc. In most web businesses, credit card data is generally never seen by human eyes, since transactions take place automatically without a credit card ever changing hands. Employees are generally never given access to this information. Again, in my business, I'm the only employee. Nobody but me can see your info. 

So you see, no guarantees can ever be made regarding credit card safety whether you buy from me, Microsoft, or even your local store. You are, however, reasonably safe if you use a credit card online - at a secure web site. It's much safer to shop online than it is to shop at the local mall.

If you're that worried, don't use your credit card... anywhere! You can always mail a check. But, rest assured if you do use your credit here, on my web site, it will be processed securely and ALL of your personal information will be held with the utmost confidence and care.

Also be sure to read my page on Password Safety.


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Keywords: credit card safety fraud  PermaLink  Credit Card Safety