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6 ways to protect your credit card information online

3rd April 2020 Print

Online consumers have many legitimate concerns about the safety of their credit card information. We hear about so many data breaches and cases of identity theft, it’s difficult to really feel safe when doing any sort of financial transactions online.

While it’s true that there are plenty of cyber criminals out there eager to swipe your credit card information, there are also a lot of ways to protect your credit card information. In this article, we’re going to share 6 ways to secure yourself against online credit card theft. Afterwards, you might also want to check out what to do if you've been a victim of credit card theft.

Don’t store credentials in the browser

The autofill feature in your browser may be a convenient, hassle-free method of checkout, but it puts you significantly at risk of stolen information. The autofill information your browser saves is typically saved to a local database file, including saved passwords as well. These database files are encrypted, but there are plenty of available tools for decrypting these data tables, commonly found on black hat community forums and group chats.

If you want the convenience of autofill form information and stored passwords, it’s advisable to use a password manager with an encrypted vault. Many of the most popular password managers also include encryption for banking and other personal information, and other features that ultimately protect you from information theft.

Be aware not all HTTPS websites are secure

Many online blogs often recommend connecting exclusively to HTTPS:// websites. This is good information but it’s not entirely foolproof, and could end up being merely a security blanket if you aren’t cautious. This is an example of why it’s important to be aware of the whys and not just the hows of online security.

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, as being a more secure version of traditional HTTP websites. An HTTPS website is verified by owning an SSL certificate, which as the name suggests, certifies to your browser that the website is HTTP secure.

For a long time the idea was that SSL certificates were a very expensive thing to obtain, with some SSL certificates costing up to $4,000 per year, and only the most legitimate of businesses would obtain them. However, cheap and even free SSL certificates are now commonly obtained today, and criminals have found ways to exploit security flaws in the way browsers interpret SSL certificates.

So yes, it is entirely possible for cyber criminals to set up phishing websites with authentic-looking SSL certificates. Add an extra layer of security with anti-phishing browser extensions like Netcraft and Phishdetector.

Avoid public WiFi

Sending your private information over a public network is like riding the subway with your credit card pinned to your shirt. Okay, that’s a bit of exaggeration, as your data isn’t that out in the open, but it’s still pretty visible to anyone with a few tools and apps for intercepting data packets on public WiFi.

If you absolutely can’t resist doing your Amazon Prime shopping from your local Starbucks, make sure you at least follow every other tip on this article, and get yourself a premium VPN for encrypting your outbound data on local networks.

Take advantage of temporary card numbers

Certain major credit card issuers, including Capital One, Citibank, and Bank of America, offer a feature known as temporary card numbers, or virtual credit cards, depending on the institution. These are basically randomly generated, single-use credit card numbers that can be entered at the time of checkout. In the event of a data breach on the website or payment processor, your real credit card number is still safe.

Use a payment gateway and 2FA

Instead of entering your credit card information into an online checkout form, add your credit card to a payment gateway like Paypal, and then check out using Paypal with your credit card as the funding source. This will allow Paypal to act as a barrier between your credit card information and the internet.

Also with Paypal, your financial information is stored in encrypted local vaults, which are much harder to attack directly, as opposed to behind corporate firewalls in financial institutions.