Is It Safe To Buy Online?
by: Jeremy Trogg
In short, the answer to that question is that... it depends!
It depends on you the user and it depends on whether the site that you are purchasing from uses proper security.
Bottom line, anything is possible. In reality, there are all sorts of potential risks where it comes to using plastic. If you pay for dinner at your favorite restaurant, do you know that when the waiter disappears with your credit card, that he/she hasn't copied your information down for use later?
If you give your telephone number out over the phone to purchase the latest gizmo offer that you saw on television, do you know that someone isn't listening to your conversation? Or do you know that the person on the other end of the line isn't writing down your info for their own use?
In both cases (just to name a couple) there is obvious risk, but in most cases, those risks are pretty minimal. The same thing can be said for the Internet, only there are fewer people that have contact with your credit card information when you purchase on the Internet.
Encryption of your information
Proper encryption and secure servers are very common nowadays and as long as you look to make sure that there is security showing up in the bottom right side of your browser, you will probably be just fine.
To know if you are on a site where the owners are using encryption, look down in the bottom right-hand corner of both Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers. If you see a closed padlock, the page is encrypted and you can fill in your credit card information.
If you don't see the padlock, don't buy.
Programs such as Microsoft wallet are available to hold your credit card information on your computer and make it faster for you to load your card information when and where you need it.
Like anything else however, the more your information is available, the more at risk it is likely to be. If you store your information on your computer but don't have a firewall, there is very little standing in the way of an unknown person from getting on your computer and finding that precious information.
Likewise, if your computer were to be stolen or used by an unknown party, they could make quick work out of your credit information stored on your computer.
Bottom line, it doesn't take long to pull out that credit card and type the numbers in. And just that little bit of extra time can save you tons of time later when compared to trying to straighten out your personal identity and salvage your credit reputation.