Online security

Many consumers are – quite rightly – nervous about doing financial transactions over Internet. They fear that their payment cards and personal details may be abused, hijacked and used fraudulently. This concern has played a major role in inhibiting the development of e-trading – and is something that webtraders and financial institutions have fought hard to allay.

As a result of their efforts, it is now as safe to use payment cards on the Internet as in any other card transactions (over the counter, on the phone). It may even be safer. But this is only if you, the user, take the trouble to ensure that your transactions take place in a secure online environment.

Secure connections

All responsible webtraders will provide this secure online environment. As soon as you begin the process of paying for items that you have selected on screen, the website will tell you, in a pop-up 'dialog box', that 'you are about to view pages over a secure connection.' The website names thereafter will be prefixed by https (s for security), and the symbol of a closed padlock should appear on your status bar.

In this secure online environment, all information you send (and are sent in return) is scrambled into code by highly sophisticated encryption, so that no one but you and the webtrader can see it or use it. The standard software used for this is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

When you leave the secure online environment, another dialog box will pop up to tell you this. Webtraders may keep your address details on file as a customer (and you will need to use a password to reactivate them), but most will erase your payment card details as soon as the transaction has gone through. You will have to insert them again next time you buy something from that webtrader. Those webtraders that don't erase your card details should have the means to keep them secure.

Never, never, never...

So the moral is: never conduct a transaction unless you are sure the webtrader is offering you a secure connection. Otherwise, do not send all your personal and card details. Certainly never send your personal and card details by email. And never reveal your pin numbers on the Internet.

Privacy policy

You may also be worried that your personal details could be used by the webtrader for other purposes, or passed on (or indeed sold) to other traders and organisations. However, all reputable webtraders will have a privacy policy that guarantees that your personal details will not be put to any use to which you have not consented.

All reputable webtraders will declare their privacy policy, and their security guarantee, on their webpages. If they don't, or if their guarantees seem inadequate, your suspicions should be aroused.

Comments on this article

shyali 10 March, 2010

somebody took my debit card and took photo copy of both side. Is they can use my card ???
response me soon.

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