Identity theft is on the rise with almost 16 million American’s affected by this crime annually. Most people find online bill paying and shopping fast as well as convenient. A few clicks of the mouse and you are ready for your next purchase. However, using your credit or debit card online can be dangerous as this is typically how scammers get your personal information. There are ways to protect yourself, so you do not fall victim to identity theft.
When you use your browser, there is an address bar at the top of the tab. Check the beginning of the address you are viewing. If “HTTPS” is the first part of the address, you are fairly safe. The S at the end of “HTTP” ensures that the website has extra security and that it is legitimate.
Examine the Address
Before putting any credit or debit card information into the website, examine the URL. Check for the misspelling of legitimate sites. For example, if you go to Walmart, and the URL is spelled Wal-Mart, then it is a fake site. The extensions “.info” and “.biz” are the least credible websites. The most credible extensions are “.gov” and “.edu”.
Every browser has an automatic save feature. This can be convenient to keep passwords, and card information handy. However, this can be easily stolen. Many websites can install malware on your PC to gather the information that you are unaware of. Turn off the “Autofill” option in your browser’s setting, so this information is not stored on your computer.
Online Fraud Emails
Sometimes, you may receive an email that looks familiar. It could be from your bank, PayPal, or a utility company. The email may ask for personal information because there was some type of problem. Never give your credit or debit card information over an email. Always call the institution with their real number to find out if the email is legitimate.
Check Bank and Credit Statements Frequently
Sometimes online fraud is as simple as one or two minor purchases on your credit or debit card. This is the most common occurrence because the scammer can get away with it easier. Not many people go over their spending with a fine-toothed comb. Some will never see that a small transaction was made. When the scammer does this to hundreds or even thousands of people, they can slip through the radar and gain a lot of money.
Virtual Credit Card Numbers
Some credit institutions offer a fairly new option for online purchases. The company gives you a one-of-a-kind card number that you can only use once. This would make it impossible for anyone to steal your credit card information.
It is important to be proactive with your financial information. Online Fraud or identity theft can happen when least expected. There are several legitimate websites that offer credit score improvement. You can use these sites to help improve your credit or to check for fraudulent use of a card or social security number.