Safety In Numbers

However, the perception that using a credit card for online shopping isn’t safe remains an enormous stumbling block for new Internet users.

More things than ever can be purchased online. Whether it’s a Kenworth money clip, batteries from or a CD from, shopping online can be a great convenience when you’re rarely at home and never near the storefront retailer you need.

However, the perception that using a credit card for online shopping isn’t safe remains an enormous stumbling block for new Internet users. Of those with less than four years online, 84 percent worry about security, according to a survey by Digital Marketing Services.

Although very slight risk remains, security on the Internet has come a long way. Also, there are ways to minimize your risk.

Shopping at trusted websites can be safer than handing your credit card to a waiter or giving your number to a mail-order phone representative. Retailers, credit card companies and software makers have spent billions to overcome security problems and to lure consumers out of the malls and onto the Internet.

Although it is faintly possible that your credit card number could be stolen through an online purchase, many websites encrypt card numbers, making your information nearly impossible to use by the few people who would have access to it.

Here are some tips from security and credit experts:

BUY FROM ESTABLISHED RETAILERS. Sites such as and eBay offer some of the best security in the business. That doesn’t mean they can’t be hacked, but generally speaking, well-known online vendors use the latest theft prevention technology.

USE A SECURE SERVER. This is a direct link between you and the retailer’s security system. Most retailers automatically switch you to a secure server. If you do not see a padlock icon at the bottom of your browser when you are asked for your credit card, you are not on a secure server.

ORDER BY PHONE. If you aren’t comfortable buying online from a smaller retailer, order over the telephone.

REVIEW STATEMENTS PROMPTLY. A monthly billing can be the first sign of credit theft.


If your credit card is lost or if you discover unauthorized purchases, call your card issuer immediately. You can also report suspicious Internet activity to the National Fraud Information Center Hotline, (800) 876-7060. To file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, visit or call toll-free (877) 382-4357.


Scam artists take advantage of the public’s fear of credit card fraud by selling insurance that covers huge losses. What some consumers don’t know is that once you report the theft of your credit number, federal law limits your liability to $50 and relieves you of responsibility for further unauthorized charges.

Because not all debit cards carry the $50 limit, do not use one for online purchases.

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