Avoiding Web Scams – PART 2

Posted on 13. Dec, 2005 by in Saving & Investing

Avoiding Web Scams – PART 1 covered the dangers of phishing and how to avoid them. Avoiding Web Scams – PART 2 focuses on online credit card usage during the holidays.

Because more people are going to be shopping online this year than ever before it is even more important for you to use your credit card wisely and to protect your credit card number. The rise in credit card theft during the holiday season happends due to the increased activity on your card. At the end of the month – or even in the middle of the month when you check your online statement – you will see so many charges that you might not remember them all. And unless they are big-ticket items, you might not care. Thus it is very easy for a credit card theif to use your card to buy $20, $30, or even $50 items without you ever knowing it – because you’ll just assume that the purchase is just another gift or perhaps your spouse purchased something with your card. The Wall Street Journal called these “Spam Charges” and reported this story recently that drives this point home:

Computer consultant Brian Morris of Pittsburgh found this out recently when he noticed a $24.99 charge from a company he didn’t recognize on his credit-card statement. When he typed the company name into Google, he found several complaints about it on bulletin boards and forums. It turned out to be a merchant in Cyprus that was in operation for about a month, charging the same $24.99 fee on hundreds of credit cards for which it had improperly obtained information.

I’ve put together a few tips here that will help you avoid fraudulent charges on your credit card this holiday season – and anytime you use the web to shop.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid – This one might sound odd, but don’t be afraid to use your credit card online. It is still the best way to purchase things online due to the ability to dispute payments, etc.
  2. Be Afraid – I know, a contradiction to #1. But this time I mean to be cautious and wise in your purchases. Realize that bad things can and do happen sometimes and keep reading this blog and other sources to keep up-to-date with the latest scams and fraud alerts.
  3. Designate a Card for Web Use – By setting aside a single credit card for all your online purchases you will be more likely to detect “spam charges” and other fraudulent activity. You might also be able to pinpoint the exact website you used if fraudulent charges to arise.
  4. Check for Security – Every online store should have a “secured checkout” process. You can usually tell that you are using such a secure checkout system because the URL will begin with “https” instead of “http”. Also, look for a small lock or other security icon at the bottom right of your browser (pictured here). Most browsers will be able to detect and tell you that you are using a secured site.
  5. Be Informed About the Site – Many people visit sites they have never head of before in order to get the best deal. But before you check out, try and find online reviews of the store by past customers. If the vendor has a shady history of delivering goods or following through with returns, the “best deal” might not be worth it.
  6. Use a “Fake” Credit Card Number – More and more banks are offering this service to keep your online shopping experience secure. By signing up (usually for free) the credit card company provides you with a “Virtual Account Number” that you can use while shopping online. Every time you use Virtual Account Numbers to make a purchase, a substitute number is generated to take the place of your real number. And every purchase you make will appear on your credit card statement, just like any other transaction.

I should mention that even though I just posted advice on avoiding web scams, I think the Internet is a wonderful tool and is capable of making life easier and more productive. While I realize that we all need to be careful online, I also believe that avoiding the Internet, or online shopping does not do anything but encourage scammers to continue their deceptive practices and spread fear among other computer users. If you want to combat web scams be sure to contact your local government representatives and let them know that something needs to be done about it. After all, it’s about time that tough laws are passed to find and punish online criminals. And only with your help and support is that ever going to happen.

Be Sure to check back soon for the final installment of Avoiding Web Scams with PART 3 – Tying up Loose Ends!

2 Responses to “Avoiding Web Scams – PART 2”

  1. Stu Savory

    14. Dec, 2005

    Thankyou, beancounter, for providing these pages of advice; clean, concise and something to point friends to.

    A real community service!

  2. Non sono sicuro come ritengo circa la Credit Card Debt ma suona come una buona idea.

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