Online safety tips while shopping this Father’s Day

Shopping online is not only easy, and convenient but it can also quite often save you money unless your credit card information falls into the wrong hands.   As you start placing your orders for ties, wallets and watches this Father’s Day, Julia Goloshubina, Co-Founder of Voxofon (a VoIP international calling provider), who manages the security and privacy measures for Voxofon’s users offered me these tips:

1.     Avoid allowing the retailer save your credit card information in your profile. Secure retailers are PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. If your credit card information is saved with a retailer that is not PCI compliant, you could be at risk. If you are confident that the retailer is PCI compliant and you want to save your credit card information for quicker checkout, make sure the retailer does not store the security code on your card – this is something they are never allowed to do.

We have discussed this here on Identity Theft Secrets and it is especially important if you are doing your shopping from on open wireless connection, like a library or restaurant or if you are using a public computer (even the one at work on your lunch break).

2.     When submitting payment, make sure the credit card information you entered is cleared out of all form entries. Some websites, even major retailers, do not do this, thus your credit card information gets stored in your browser. If an unauthorized person uses your computer or if your computer gets stolen, that information can be accessed easily.

There should be a box at the end of every transaction that says “do not save”  or “remember me”   Look for those boxes.   Make sure that your transaction at a store or online site did not automatically default to “remember me.”
3.     Look at the address bar to ensure that you are making a secure transaction. A retailer must go through strict validation processes to obtain an SSL Certificate, which verifies safe transaction practices. If a retailer has an SSL Certificate, the URL on the checkout pages will begin with https://. Also, your address bar in your browser will display a lock symbol next to the URL. For retailers that have more advanced SSL Certificates, you will see a green bar on the address bar of your browser.
For more information from about SSL Certificates visit “SSL Security Certificates: Safer shopping online.”
4.     Make sure retailers are storing your passwords properly. When saving your profile on a site, retailers have several ways of storing your passwords. The most secure retailers will store the passwords in the form of one-way hashes. Unfortunately, there is no way as a consumer to ensure that a retailer is doing this upfront; therefore you must contact customer support to confirm that your passwords are safe.
Most stores and providers online will have a separate page or tab for “contact us” or “customer service”  you can use those to access the customer support services and find out if your password is stored safely.   You may want to consider using a program like Roboform to save your passwords instead of depending on the word of a customer service call.
With just a few clicks of the keyboard and moves of the mouse it is possible to keep you credit card and personal information secure.  It may seem like a lot of steps to follow, but it is not as many as it may take to fix a problem with your credit, credit card or identity.