Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shopping Online Safely

Years ago, when we first thought we might like to purchase something online, but were still not convinced of the safety of such an operation, we took out a special credit card to use on just such occasions.  It had a very low credit limit, so that if something did happen, we wouldn't be too concerned.

We have used that specific card online ever since, even now that we know online shopping with reputable companies is actually safer than doing so in person or on the phone.  It is, because the card numbers are encrypted and nobody ever sees them when you shop online,  so they can never be copied and used elsewhere. 

It was actually our regular credit card that ran into trouble. But VISA is very quick to phone you when their system flags unusual activity. Someone in Montreal was trying to max it out on Christmas Eve one year.  While VISA had me on the phone, saying we are not in Montreal buying anything, they also had the police on another line, and were ready to catch the person who was fraudulently using our card number. I was very impressed with how quickly this problem was dealt with.

We learned at that time that crooks often work at a gas station just long enough to collect some credit card numbers and then move on. They recreate the cards and then go shopping. After that we decided to use our "safe for online" credit card for gas purchases too.

Another time someone apparently tried to purchase a cruise, but they were using the safe card  number, and there wasn't nearly enough credit to complete the purchase. So they tried to book a lower priced trip and ran into the same problem. Once again, the flags went up at VISA.  I don't know if that person was caught or not, but they sure didn't get access to any of our funds.

Pay Pal came along at some point, and I got an account with them. I use it when I wanted to purchase things like flowering tea balls from China. I'm not about to give some unknown person in a far away land my credit card number, but Pay Pal is a safe way to deal with such vendors.  I've also had people pay me for photographs using Pay Pal. A lady in California sent me some money very easily that way. It's a much safer way to do business online. I don't have to worry about receiving a bad cheque from someone I can't track down in exchange for my photos. 

Then this week I got an e-mail from Pay Pal saying that someone in Nicaragua had tried to access my account and that it would be locked down until I signed in to verify it again. I was a bit suspicious of that message.  I signed in the regular way, without clicking on any links within an e-mail,  and immediately the phone rang. An automated voice was asking for the verification code that had popped up on my screen.  Once that was entered, the site was accessible to me once again, and I was happy to find out how well protected even Pay Pal is.

Since Pay Pal often wants to attach your account with them to either a bank account or a credit card, it reassures me to know how secure they are.  You can transfer money to and from Pay Pal from the linked bank account. Likewise,  they can just charge the balance of a purchase to your credit card when what you currently are holding in Pay Pal is not enough to complete the purchase. That beats waiting the three days for a transfer to go through.  Just like the low credit level card I hold, I also have a mad money account at a totally different bank from where I normally deal. That's the account I attached Pay Pal to.  I can transfer money to and from the Pay Pal account from there, and never worry about crooks getting access to my life's savings.

I was being very careful when I set up that account, and the little VISA card, but it's paid off.  While both VISA and Pay Pal have proven to be very safe, I also know I don't have to worry about too much money disappearing if anything ever is breached. Shopping online can be very safe with a few precautions.

1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed with how secure you have your funds. I'm very thankful for paypal. It's good to know that it's very secure too!