The convenience of what you can do online seems to grow each day as more retailers create online stores to shop at and more bill providers make it easier for their customers to pay online. We rely less on physical shopping at actual stores and banks and rely more on sitting behind a computer screen when it comes to paying for the things we want or need. Scammers know just how much we rely on technology and take advantage of this on a daily basis as they come up with numerous creative ways to steal our personal and financial information. Because of this, we often wonder the question: Is it safe to pay online?
Why Do People Choose to Pay Bills Online?
- It saves money on postage stamps.
- It’s more convenient online vs. paying by mail.
- Scammers are more likely to steal your personal information via snail mail than online.
- You’re able to pay your bills via credit card and earn rewards.
- You can choose between three options to pay your bills: through your bank, on the biller’s website, or a third-party bill payment service.
Why Do People Choose to Go Online Shopping?
- It’s more convenient shopping online vs. going to a physical store.
- Online stores are open 24/7 vs. physical stores that have varying hours.
- Sometimes people live far away from physical stores, making them rely on online stores more often.
- There’s more of a selection online vs in stores.
- You can shop discreetly when buying gifts for loved ones.
How Can Your Card Information Get Compromised Online?
Hacking Into Online Businesses
Hackers perform data breaches on companies, leaking their private data that includes their customers’ personal information. This could include your name, email address, phone number, address, and most importantly… your credit card information.
Hacking Into Your Online Accounts
When a data breach happens for a business, your account information is also leaked onto the dark web. They can also trick you with a phishing link that looks legit to give them your account information. Usually, these emails look real, stating that your account is being compromised, and the link to reset your password looks legit.
People then trust this link and enter their information, giving scammers access to their accounts. Therefore, scammers can use your log-in information to go onto your account and collect your financial information if you aren’t careful.
Malware Installed Secretly Onto Your Device
Emails can contain links to websites with a bunch of bugs called malware that can secretly get downloaded onto your device and steal your information. This information can contain your credit card and/or debit card numbers, your online account information, and your personal information such as your name, email address, SSN, and birthday.
The scammers can then take this information and perform identity theft, steal your accounts from you, and copy your card numbers to make purchases under your name and steal your money.
Phishing Emails and Text Messages
Scammers send phishing emails to their victims with links so that they can download malware secretly on the victims’ devices. They also include a legit-looking form for victims to fill out their personal information. This form could also contain a slot for victims to fill out their card information, thinking that they are purchasing something but in reality, scammers are actually stealing money from them.
If the form doesn’t have a slot for you to fill out your card information, this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Scammers can still steal your personal information, call your bank, and pretend to be you to gain access to this information.
Is it Safe To Pay Online Using Your Card?
Using a card to shop online is fairly safe with secure connections, but not totally safe. There are things that are out of your control, such as a data breach at your favorite online store or a personal data breach where your information is stolen. However, there are also things you can do personally to make sure no one has access to your card information like being careful when you click on random links or performing virus scans on your computer.
One thing you can do when wondering “is it safe to pay online,” is to avoid using your debit card for online purchases and use your credit card instead.
Credit Card vs. Debit Card: Is it Safe to Pay Online?
When someone steals your debit card information, your whole bank account is in danger of being compromised. When scammers make purchases using your debit card, they are taking money directly out of your bank account which becomes difficult to trace and get it back. It then becomes harder for you to dispute these charges and claim that they weren’t yours, to begin with.
Additionally, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act for debit cards states that you need to let your financial institution know within 2 days that your card has been used if you want to be liable for only $50. Any later than that but within 60 days of the unauthorized transactions and you could be responsible for $500 of the stolen purchases. If you wait longer than 60 days, you could be held responsible for every unauthorized penny spend on your account.
Even though the Electronic Fund Transfer Act exists, most financial institutions will still offer zero-liability debit cards so you are not responsible for scammers’ purchases. However, you would be on your own if you dispute purchases on your card made by a scammer. With a credit card, the card issuer partners up with you to get your money back, hence why a credit card would be the best option to use for online purchases.
Along with this, if you use a credit card you automatically become protected by the Truth in Lending Act. This act states that you’re not liable for any credit card debts if you report your card as lost or stolen before the unauthorized transactions are made. Along with this, there is a $50 limit on liability even when there is credit card fraud.
How to Avoid Your Card Information Getting Compromised Online
- Use firewalls and anti-viral software on your devices.
- Only shop online and pay bills using a private device with a secure private connection. DO NOT pay online using public wi-fi networks.
- Make sure there is a secure and encrypted connection to the site you are using to pay online.
- Do your research before making a purchase on that website.
- If there’s barely any information about the company or no reviews, chances are it’s not a legit company and its just someone trying to scam you.
- Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay to add protection to your credit/debit cards.
- Sign up for account alerts and tw0-factor authentication with your financial institution.
- Don’t allow a website to remember your card information.
- Don’t give away your information to a random link or email address.
Is it Safe to Pay Online? Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we can help you figure out who has your personal and financial information. All you need to do is reverse search a name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image of the person who is scamming you out of this information for us to look into who it actually is. Is it safe to pay online? With Social Catfish, we make it a whole lot safer to do so.