Friday, February 11, 2011

WARM, SQUISHY FEELINGS

So many of you are terrified of entering your credit card number “into the internet.” This is especially true of older people who seem to have an innate distrust of technology in general. The truth is that your credit card number is already floating around the internet in one form or another even if you never touched a computer. Yep, every time you swipe your card at the local grocery store, your credit card information travels through “the internet” to the store’s credit card processor in the exact same way used while sitting in front of your computer.

The vast majority of the headlines reading “Credit Cards Stolen From Internet” concern hackers breaking into financial institutions and stealing thousands or even millions of credit card numbers at a time. Sure, individuals are occasionally targeted but that is actually pretty rare. The vast majority of fraudulent credit card numbers are obtained by means that are utterly out of your control. The bottom line is that on-line shopping is quite safe but if you are a newcomer there are a few things you should be aware of that can make your shopping experience even more secure.

First, know the seller. When you shop at a mall, you consider the reputation of the store, the fa├žade, cleanliness, and perhaps whether or not the salesperson is hot. On-line purchases aren’t much different. Shop with companies you know and trust such as www.BooksaMillion.com or www.Amazon.com. If a certain website fails to give you a warm, squishy feeling, shop at another site that does.

Secondly, this is really important to listen up: Use secure websites. When you type a credit card number (or any other personal information) into a form on the internet, it can be read by others unless the website is properly secured. Secure sites will have a slightly modified Internet “www” address; rather than beginning with http:, the site's URL will begin with https:. The “s” means the sight is using a secure server. So look for this “https” in your internet browser’s address bar (where you type the “www” address). If the little “s” is missing, don’t type in your credit card number.

Thirdly, secure your computer. If you don’t have current, updated antivirus program running on your computer, if you don’t keep up with the security updates from Microsoft, you put your credit card number at risk of being stolen.

Lastly, don’t worry about it! Even if a thief buys a yacht with your stolen credit card number, federal law limits your liability to just $50.00. Most credit card companies don’t even make you pay that unless they suspect you of being really stupid. Debit card users are liable only for transfers that occur after 60 days following the mailing of your bank statement containing the unauthorized use and before you report the loss.

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