Making Safe Purchases Online

by David Ferszt, IT Consultant

As online purchasing is becoming more and more common, many people are being forced to pay by plastic and hope their information is safe.

There are few things you should know to help protect yourself.  First, you should only make your purchases from a computer that you know does not have a virus or keylogger.  Also I would recommend avoiding doing any purchasing on a non-secure network such as Starbucks WiFi.  Be familiar with or do some research on any website you are about to give your credit information to as well.  Places like Amazon and Staples are fairly safe, but when in doubt, search for reviews about the website on Google.

When sending any type of confidential information across the internet, it is also very wise to make sure that the website begins with https vs http.  The “S” stands for secure (the HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol…there will be a test later!).  The S denotes that there is some level of encryption happening between the user and the server.  You will notice that most login pages are https; including banks, email servers, and even Facebook.  When making purchases, aside from ensuring the website is HTTPS, you should also pay exclusively with credit cards.

There are also many differences in using credit vs. debit cards.  Consumer liability on credit card cards are often less than that of their debit card counterparts.  In addition to liability, in the event of fraudulent charges, you do not have to wait for your bank to reimburse you if you paid by credit card.  Most important is to check your statements frequently for accuracy.