If you’re thinking of buying anything on the Internet – you’re going to need a credit card. Whilst some companies and countries accept debit cards – the majority don’t. To stay safe, (and to keep your money safe) you will therefore need to know how to use a credit card properly.
Update your security system regularly
Before you even start to access goods or services on-line – you need to make sure your own computer receives regular security system updates. You need what is known as a ‘firewall’. According to Microsoft, this is “a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet”. Windows Vista has a built-in firewall. Simply put – if you don’t have a firewall then fraudsters can hack into your computer, steal your personal information and spend your money using your credit card details!
You need to protect all the computers in your home. Beware of making financial transactions of any kind in Internet cafes, or via an unsecured wireless connection. Don’t forget to log off properly from the sites you are using when you’ve finished your transactions.
Make sure the site you are viewing is a reputable one
There is such a thing as financial best practice for Internet shopping sites. Your site should be user-friendly, easy to navigate and should provide clear details about what you are buying (including measurements and sizes of goods). Good sites use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to encrypt your details whilst they travel from your computer to the retailer’s system. That means your payment card and personal details are kept private. To save time you can store credit card details on a shopping site, so you don’t need to type them in every time you order. These are usually stored on a secure encrypted server which is not accessible via the Internet.How can I check my details are secure?
Every time you fill out personal or payment details on a shopping site, your browser should switch to ‘secure mode’, to encrypt the information you are sending to the retailer. To check your details are secure look for a closed padlock symbol in the bottom bar of your Internet browser.
Keep an eye on your bank accounts
Check transactions you have made, preferably on a daily basis. Print out your Internet shopping receipts and keep them in a file. This will help you to track goods you have ordered to make sure they are actually delivered. Sign up for internet banking. You can check your statement any time of day or night and every day if necessary. Many banks also offer special budgeting software which can be really useful too.