According to a survey from Visa Canada, 63 percent of Canadians don’t think it’s safe to use a credit card for online shopping. It’s kind of a mind-blowing statistic given how much we buy online in this country — in 2009 alone for example, we placed 95 million orders online to the tune of $15.1 billion.
Now, I have to say I am pretty wary when it comes to giving out my personal details and credit card info online, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it because there are just some things that are much cheaper online or that I can’t easily pick up at the store.
But there are things you can do to be smart about buying things online with a credit card — Visa recommends keeping the software and virus protection on your computer updated (don’t ignore those software update prompts on your computer). They also suggest creating strong passwords — the more characters, the better. Microsoft has a password checker that rates the safety of your favourite passwords. Hint: 12345 is pretty weak.
You can also sign up for email or text “transaction alerts” from your bank to help you stay on top of what’s going onto your credit cards. With this feature, if someone tries to use your card to buy rounds of drinks in Thunder Bay and you’re in Vancouver, you know there’s a problem.
You should also read your Visa statements thoroughly as soon as you get them, in order to identify anything that doesn’t look familiar.
And if you use a wireless network, you need to be extra careful that it’s secured. Microsoft suggests turning your wifi off when you’re not using it and making sure that you install a firewall. Of course, shopping online via public WiFi should probably be avoided altogether.