How to Shop Safely Online When Using a Credit or Debit Card

Author: PeopleFinders on November 19th, 2018
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E-commerce has completely changed the shopping world. Most big retailers have some form of online shopping online for customers who don’t live close to a retail store, or who just enjoy the convenience of shopping from home. There are even incredibly successful retailers that are online only. Amazon, for example, has no retail stores, but is still a household name.

E-commerce has been around since 1979. That’s a long time. But with transactions flying around cyberspace, it’s still valid to have concerns over where you’re using your credit card information. If you want to make sure your e-commerce experience is safe, and you don’t have any of your credit or debit information compromised, here are some things to keep in mind.

Always Check Safety Certificates

This is something that most modern browsers do for you automatically. If you’ve ever seen a little padlock in the corner of your browser’s address bar, that’s your browser telling you that it believes the website is safe. How does it do this? Safety Certificates are issued by Certificate Authorities, which verify that the site is actually who it says it is. These Safety Certificates protect you from phishing scams. When you’re on the real Google homepage, for example, your browser will tell you that it’s really Google, rather than someone imitating Google to steal your information.

Safety Certificates are especially important when it comes to e-commerce because untrustworthy sites may just take your payment and never send you anything in return. Or they could even steal your credit card information to use for fraudulent purposes. While the most popular web browsers keep track of Certificate Authorities that they consider trustworthy, some sources aren’t in those databanks. Automation can’t account for everything; make sure you actually check the Safety Certificates when buying from a new site.

Use Third-Party Payment Options

Inputting your credit or debit card information on an unfamiliar site can be nerve-wracking. After all, you’re giving all your information directly to the company, information that could easily be used to steal your identity if the company turns out to be untrustworthy. An easy way to avoid this is to use third-party payment options such as Visa Checkout or PayPal, both of which allow you to create an account and input your payment information on your account. When you checkout with a site that offers support for those payment options, you just have to sign into your account; you never have to add your payment information directly into the shopping site.

Of course, many sites don’t have support for these payment options. If you need to pay directly, you’ll want to check the Safety Certificate of the sign-in page for your preferred payment option. If it’s available, it’s an easy way to stay a little safer. Make sure your payment option is trustworthy as well. There are plenty of well-known third-party payment sites, so you have all kinds of platform options.

Do Your Own Research on the Site Itself

Whenever you’re buying from a new company, it’s always a good idea to research the site a bit. Not only can you find out if the payment options are trustworthy, but you can see if the items you’re interested in are even worth buying. Some sites may actually send you a package, but the items you receive will be extremely poor quality. Or you’ll receive an order full of incorrect items.

If you’re thinking of buying from a site, there’s a good chance people have reviewed it. If you find contact information, you can also make sure that information is actually registered to the right company. PeopleFinders can help you look up a company phone number to make sure it actually belongs to the company in question.


There are plenty of e-commerce websites out there, and a large number of them have nothing to do with the big retailers of the world. However, while a large majority of these small online sellers is comprised of legitimate businesses looking to send you great products, a number are also just trying to get your credit and debit card information. By being smart about your online shopping habits, you can make sure you don’t get sucked into a phishing scam or an unsavory shopping experience. You can also use the PeopleFinders blog to stay up-to-date on more ways to be safe online.

Photo credit: Andrey Popov –

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Categorized in: Digital Identity