Preventing Online Credit Card Fraud

The use of Internet has ballooned in the last 10 years and everyday we rely on it more and more. The convenience of the internet makes our lives easier to manage and the real-time information that is available has become a part of our daily lives. Overtime, we have lost our fear of using the Internet for purchases using our credit cards. We use it on retail sites like Amazon, auction sites like eBay and numerous others.

Such prevalent use of the internet and online purchasing bring their own perils. While security, authentication and online processes for accepting, storing and distribution of credit cards and personal information have evolved and become better, the number of incidents of online fraud and identity thefts has risen sharply.

The card issuers, online merchants, payment clearing houses etc. are all taking steps to reduce such incidents and have heavy penalties for not following guidelines. For e.g. no online merchant who accepts credit cards can store the number in a unencrypted fashion. The penalty is $25,000 per violation. While the companies will continue to improve their processes and reduce the incidents of online fraud, we as consumers can take several steps to reduce our exposure. Some of the steps we can take are summarized below:

* Using virtual credit cards

Virtual cards also known as controlled payment numbers, have been available for use for quite some time now. Here is how they work…

The first thing to do is to sign up for the virtual programs offered online by the credit card companies. Companies such as Citibank, Discover, and even Paypal have this feature. You will need to install software that comes along with the program. All you need to do is to enter your actual credit card number in this software and make up a number that isn’t your actual card number every time you make online purchase. This masks the real card number to the online merchant. The online retailer or website doesn’t get a glimpse of your actual number and won’t be able to maintain your data in his or her records. Also, hackers get to see your temporary number which proves to be unusable for them.

* Availing of auxiliary security measures offered by credit card companies

Some credit card companies offer additional security measures or programs for online card users. Two notable credit card issuers that offer these kinds of services are Visa and MasterCard. How do these auxiliary security measures work?

This feature requires a password in addition to the regular information entered when making online purchases. Regular information which includes the card number, address, zip code etc. are still provided while making purchases but the password becomes an additional security feature. You can also change this password frequently to prevent the use of your card by unauthorized users.

* Online authentication systems

These verification systems give auxiliary security while making an online purchase. This system makes use of special 4-digit pin numbers or codes to authenticate that the one using the credit card is indeed the one who owns it when he or she is making an online purchase. You can check with your card issuer for more details on this.

There are other ways to avoid online credit card frauds other than the ones mentioned above. All you need to do is check with the card issuer to find out more about these security features. Although they may prove to be a hassle to those who are busy, these methods can help prevent identity theft or loss of credit card information and thus reduce bigger hassles down the road.

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