By Matt Bentley
Things are tough online now – a business can get hacked and lose millions of customers’ details to hackers.
Unfortunately those details sometimes include credit cards.
There is also an underground industry of stolen credit card details, often funding illicit “deal” websites like G2A (a computer game re-seller) or other seedier sites.
There is no way to guarantee that a site will not be hacked; even the most fastidious, security-oriented businesses like LastPass (known for storing online passwords securely) have been hacked, leading many to ask, how can I guarantee that my credit card details are safe online?
Luckily, there is a way to ensure that your credit card will never be used by the wrong people online and that is not to use it, or to use it sparingly, and prevent businesses from storing it.
For example, when trademe.co.nz asks you whether you want to store your credit card details for the next transaction with them you may simply say no, and untick that box.
It is best practice to do this with all online sites that you use a credit or debit card with. That way, the company can only store the card’s details for the duration of the transaction, but no longer.
Sure, it’s tedious and time-consuming to re-type a credit card number many times but it beats having someone else obtain it.
Last year while travelling in America, I had to suffer the embarrassment of not being able to pay for restaurant bill because my bank had flagged my credit card as being possibly compromised (nothing to do with me being overseas, I informed them in advance). In other words, even if a threat doesn’t eventuate, these things can still have consequences.
A second approach is to use an online service such as Paypal to transfer funds. Many or most online businesses accept Paypal, and while Paypal will store your credit/debit card details, those details are only shared with one company instead of many. Which, purely through statistical odds, decreases the chance of your credit card details being hacked and stolen. Of course, you should use a very secure password for Paypal, just like any other site; see my earlier article about creating a secure password.
In summary, if you do have credit cards stored with one or more online sites, it is good to remove them. If you need help doing so, give me a bell.
* Matt Bentley is the owner of Waikato Home PC Support (previously Matangi Home PC). He has 20 years experience in computer hardware and software and his services include virus removal, PC optimisation, inspection and repair.
Matt writes a semi-regular column for Tamahere Forum on computer matters. Check out his website here for contact details.
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