Safe­guard credit cards

Te Awamutu Courier - - News -

BY MATT BENTLEY Waikato Home PC Sup­port

Things are tough on­line now; a busi­ness gets hacked and sud­denly mil­lions of cus­tomer’s de­tails are in the hands of hack­ers.

This is more com­mon­place than is com­fort­able. And some­times those de­tails in­clude credit cards. There is also an un­der­ground in­dus­try of stolen credit card de­tails, of­ten fund­ing il­licit “deal” web­sites like G2A (a com­puter game re­seller), or other, seed­ier sites.

There is no way to guar­an­tee that a web­site will not be hacked; even the most fas­tid­i­ous, se­cu­rity-ori­ented busi­nesses like LastPass (known for stor­ing on­line pass­words se­curely) have been hacked, lead­ing many to ask, how can I guar­an­tee that my credit card de­tails are safe on­line?

Luck­ily, there is a way to en­sure that your credit card will never be used by the wrong peo­ple on­line: that is, not to use it or to use it spar­ingly, and pre­vent busi­nesses from stor­ing it.

For ex­am­ple, when TradeMe asks you if you want to store your credit card de­tails for the next trans­ac­tion with them — you may sim­ply say no, and untick that box.

It is best prac­tice to do this with all on­line sites that you use a credit or debit card with. That way, the com­pany can only store the card’s de­tails for the du­ra­tion of the trans­ac­tion, but no longer.

Sure, it’s te­dious and time-con­sum­ing to re­type a credit card num­ber many times, but it beats hav­ing some­one else ob­tain it.

Last year while I was trav­el­ling in Amer­ica, I suf­fered the em­bar­rass­ment of not be­ing able to pay for a restau­rant bill be­cause my bank had flagged the credit card as be­ing pos­si­bly com­pro­mised (noth­ing to do with me be­ing over­seas, I had in­formed them in ad­vance, as you should of course do). In other words; even if a threat doesn’t even­tu­ate, th­ese things still have con­se­quences.

A sec­ond ap­proach is to use an on­line ser­vice such as Pay­pal to trans­fer funds.

Many or most on­line busi­nesses ac­cept Pay­pal, and while Pay­pal will store your credit/ debit card de­tails, those de­tails are only shared with one com­pany in­stead of many.

Which, purely through sta­tis­ti­cal odds, de­creases the chance of your credit card de­tails be­ing hacked and stolen.

Of course, you should use a very se­cure pass­word for Pay­pal, just like any other site (see the ear­lier ar­ti­cle of mine about cre­at­ing a se­cure pass­word).

All in all the on­line world is still the ‘wild west’, with many mis­cre­ants, bad ac­tors and sabo­teurs.

Let’s hope even­tu­ally the world at large forms a more uni­fied ap­proach to deal­ing with th­ese is­sues, rather than leav­ing it to the in­no­cent con­sumer to get scammed.

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