With the holidays creeping around the corner, many of you may be rushing to make your last minute purchases online. As you do so, it is important that you protect your credit information from unprotected sites.
If you have recently searched for an item, you may see ads for that item showing up on sites that you visit. I would caution you to resist the temptation of clicking on those ads and purchasing through them. Some of those ads could be fraudulent and trying to collect your credit card information.
My last blog post discussed what to do if you have been a victim of a credit fraud. This post will focus on what to do to protect your credit information when shopping so that you will NOT become a victim. Last year, 15.4 million Americans were victims of credit fraud. I would not be surprised if that number has increased.
How to Protect Your Credit and Debit Card Information During the Holidays
I found a great post at ValuePenguin, which offers tips on what to do to protect your information when shopping online:
- Always check the credentials of online retailers by finding the security badge or icon at the bottom, right-hand corner of the website(s). You can also check for the “lock” icon or the word “secure” next to the URL at the top of the screen.
- For mobile shoppers, lock your phone and use authentication features like a thumb print or facial recognition on your phone.
- The final tip seems simple (though I am guilty of doing this in the past): NEVER give out your payment information via email or phone.
- Keep track of what you buy online and check your statements regularly for any fraudulent charges.
Why Credit Cards Are Usually Safer
When I shop online, I always use one credit card to make all online purchases. Also, I use a credit card because it is safer. When using a credit card, you are using the bank’s money to initially make the purchases, which you will pay back when your payment is due. This allows you more time to notice the fraudulent charge before your money is impacted.
Additionally, you cannot lose more than $50 to fraud when using a credit card. On the other hand, with a debit card, since it is your money you are spending, your liability is potentially unlimited under federal law unless you have “zero liability” coverage on your debit card.
If you do decide to use a credit card, it is important that you never charge more than you can afford to pay off in order to avoid interest charges.
Protect your identity and your credit and debit card information this holiday season by keeping these tips in mind as you shop online.
Mary Pool is a shareholder of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law. She has represented thousands of clients over her more than 11 years working in the bankruptcy field. Read her full bio here.