Many people who confidently surf the Internet for information about medical conditions and tips for buying a new car remain uncomfortable with turning their hard-earned dollars loose online.
Whether they’re sending money to a loved one or buying a pair of shoes, they worry that their money will somehow get lost in cyberspace. If you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of Internet commerce, follow these four safety tips for making payments online.
Treat Emails With Suspicion
Whether you’re using your laptop computer or your smartphone to make payments online, treat every email you receive with skepticism. If the sender wants you to confirm banking details or visit your shopping cart, resist the urge to click on any links.
U.S. News Money senior editor Kimberly Palmer, warns that scam artists will set up cloned websites to convince you to supply personal information.
Instead of clicking on hyperlinks, visit online payment destinations by typing in the URL yourself. This is particularly important for your online bank account, but follow the same strategy for e-commerce websites and online retail outlets just to be safe.
Look for Encryption
Before you make a purchase online, look for the padlock icon on your browser’s status bar. This indicates that the site uses SSL encryption, which means it’s far safer for online transactions. You’ll also notice that e-tailers that use SSL have URLs starting with “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP.”
Cyber thieves can’t steal encrypted information nearly as quickly or as easily as unencrypted data. Don’t buy from e-commerce sites that don’t protect their customers with SSL certificates.
Use Trusted Transfer Services to Send Money Internationally
When you send money abroad, you want to keep your money safe and spend as little as possible in fees. Fortunately, online money transfer services can cover both requirements.
Using storefront transfer services will often cause you to incur large fees for every transaction. Additionally, you have to visit the storefront in person, which can prove inconvenient, especially if you’re sending money in an emergency.
Choose Trusted Recipients
Don’t send money to a family member or friend unless you confirm his or her identity. An email requesting funds in a foreign country, for instance, could come from anyone. Scam artists will claim that your loved one is locked in jail or stranded at a foreign airport. After you send the money, you can’t get it back.
Similarly, use trusted online retailers to do your online shopping. Sites like Amazon and eBay serve as trusted e-tailers because millions of people use them every week. If you try a new store, research the company first so you can learn about any red flags in advance.
It’s perfectly safe to make payments online as long as you protect yourself with the above tips. Whether you’re sending cash to a friend, paying a bill, or making a purchase, you can conduct online transactions both safely and conveniently.