Credit fraud is rampant these days, especially online. First your credit card information is stolen. Then it is typically sold to a criminal network, which uses it to make a fraudulent purchase. Note that in addition to being stolen online, this can also happen when using your credit card directly with an unscrupulous waiter or clerk, or a ‘skimming’ device attached to a card reader.
There are actions you can take to protect yourself online. Just realize they are not foolproof.
Here are the most important ones:
1. Make sure your computer, tablet and phone are clean and well protected from phishing and viruses using Internet security software.
2. If you have your credit card information stored on your computer, tablet or phone, make sure that information is encrypted.
3. Be extremely careful when going to a new website or receiving an e-mail from an unknown person. Do not download or execute anything for which you do not know the origin or purpose.
4. Be extra cautious before using your credit card on a website or in an app. If you are not sure, research the credibility of the company and website. Google the company website with the word “review” or “scam,” which may tell you a lot. You can also look them up at The Better Business Bureau (BBB).
5. Even when comfortable with the company and website, still do not enter your credit card information unless you are connected over a secure connection. You will see “https” at the beginning of the web address, and a lock in the browser status bar.
Even with all of this care, the selling company, the bank or credit-card-processing network may get hacked and your credit card stolen anyway — even if you never use the card online directly.
So regardless of other actions, make sure to monitor the activity in your account regularly. Many credit card companies make this easy by allowing you to set up alerts and notifying you when they see potential fraudulent activity.