Shopping Smart

4 Essential Rules To Protect Your Credit Card When Shopping Online

By | Monday, December 19, 2016


Credit card theft has been a major issue for years, basically ever since credit cards themselves became a thing. However, since the Internet has become as widespread as it is today, a lot of people have started to shop almost exclusively online, which has made the threat of someone stealing your credit card much more common than before. A few decades ago, all you had to worry about was keeping your credit cards physically safe from pick-pocketers, but now, all that has changed.

As an Information Security Analyst, I know that information is easily obtained online if the party who is trying to obtain it is skilled enough, and if you’re not careful enough protecting it. Millions of credit cards get stolen in the States in a single year, and having it happen to you can be a real living nightmare. Fortunately, there are quite a bit of ways in which you can protect yourself from such an event and minimize the chances of it happening.

1. Never Shop on Public Networks

Wireless networks in general are much less secure than wired ones, but this is especially true for public WiFi. Because a huge number of people are connected to the same network at the same time, that essentially puts you inside a wireless local area network with all of them. It’s much easier for a hacker to obtain your information over a local area network, so stick to benign stuff such as social media when you’re browsing online from a coffee shop.

We know, it’s tempting to browse Amazon when you’re waiting for a friend to arrive, and that’s fine — just don’t log into your Amazon account from your smartphone or tablet, and absolutely refrain from entering your financial information anywhere via a public network. Also, it’d be a great idea to install some kind of antivirus app to your handheld devices, as this will additionally protect you from cyber attacks on public networks, which can potentially lead to the theft of credit card credentials.

2. Storing Credit Card Credentials Online

It’s important to realize that the best way to prevent third parties from getting access to your information is to remove the information before they can get to it. What do I mean by this? I mean do not check the boxes that say you want to let your shopping website of choice remember your credit card credentials, your passwords, etc.

If you don’t do this, anyone can just get on your computer when you aren’t looking, access the shopping website themselves, and do whatever they want with your account. All they have to do is change your password and e-mail, and they gain complete access to your credit card, since you’ve memorized the credentials inside the account itself. It might be a bit more effort to input the credentials each time you want to buy something, but believe me — it’s worth it.

3. Secure Your Connection

By default, your internet connection is not really that secure, unless you take some additional steps in order to secure it further. An insecure connection is susceptible to cyber attacks, security breaches, and leaks, and competent hackers can easily follow your trail and dig up your private information if you don’t do something to stop them. The easiest course of action you can take is to never leave your login information and your credit card credentials on an insecure website.

Additionally, I’d recommend always keeping your browser and operating system updated to the latest version. Updates are most often security patches that entire development teams release frequently, in order to patch up any security holes that hackers could potentially exploit.

A final piece of advice about increasing the security of your connection would be to always browse through a VPN. The moment that your PC connects to a VPN server, your connection becomes much more secure and private than before, significantly decreasing the chances that your online traffic can be read by a third party.

4. Prepaid Credit Cards

The best and most secure way to shop online is definitely via prepaid credit cards. Realistically, the real risk when sharing your credit card credentials is someone putting you into debt by abusing your credit card, and you’re the one that has to pay it all back.

With a prepaid credit card, all you can do is actually spend a fixed amount that you transferred to the card using another card or bank account, so all you have to do is keep your prepaid account empty until you actually decide to buy something. If someone does get their hands on your prepaid credit card credentials, it’s not the end of the world because, it’s either completely empty, or it just has a small amount of money on it — nothing too serious to put you in debt. If you’re an avid online shopper, this is definitely something to consider.

Even though he’s born on American soil, Thomas Milva has Italian blood in his veins, which can be easily deduced from his last name. He is very good at his job of Information Security Analyst and he really loves doing it. What’s more, his understanding of the job granted him the title of a writer for He enjoys spending time in the fresh air, usually with his pet dog and his girlfriend.

Image via Unsplash


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