If you believe the hype generated by some of
these news stories, hundreds of crooks are just
waiting for you to enter your credit card details
so that they can intercept your transmission,
and use the numbers to take your card to the limit.
In reality, things are a bit different. It's
pretty unlikely that your data will be intercepted
and used. However, there can be a risk when the
company asking for your credit card number does
not store them securely, or uses them fraudulently.
There have certainly been cases recently when
insecurely stored lists of credit card numbers
have been stolen and used illegally.
I've been buying goods on the internet for around
5 years now, and have made hundreds of transactions
for books, software, and various products. I've
only had one problem - and that was with a large
Australian company. The error was quickly fixed
after intervention by my bank.
Its a good idea to take some basic precautions
before buying something from a company on the
internet. Try to establish a "feel"
for the reputability of the company from the
look of their website. If you get the feeling
that the company looks suspect, don't deal with
Reputable companies tend to have the
following on their websites
If you consider the above items,
I believe that purchasing on the internet
is safer than letting your card out of your sight
at a restaurant, or a hotel. There are small machines
called "skimmers" which can read the
information off your card in a fraction of a second,
and store it for fraudulent use.
Using real time processors like WorldPay or PayPal
is also quite safe in our opinion. Your card number
is never seen by the merchant concerned.
A strategy that many people use is to have an
additional card with a small limit just for internet
Remember that if your card number is fraudulently
used, you can recover the funds from your bank.
However the time taken and inconvenience caused
can be significant.
If you don't want to provide your card details
over the internet, most companies can accept them
by phone or fax. International phone calls are
cheap these days - a call from Australia to the
USA is cheaper than a call from Hobart to Sydney.