Low-down on Buying Online!
Steve Refuses To Buy Online
With all the data and identity theft, I absolutely refuse to use my credit
card online. I am not willing to take that risk until online merchants can
prove to me that my information is safe. I understand there are many who
don't feel like I do. Maybe you guys can shed some light on why you think
people should buy online in light of the problems and identity theft that
seems so prevalent these days. I trust your opinion and I really like your
newsletters. Thanks, Steve.
Thank you, Steve. First let's touch on "Identity Theft". It is a
problem, we agree. But it has nothing to do with security breaches or buying
online. It has to do with phishing scams and people just not using common
sense. If you receive an email that appears to be from a credit card
company, financial institution, or other company seeking your personal
information (name, address, social security number, credit card numbers,
date of birth, etc.) the first thing you should do is be very skeptical. We
cannot think of one single financial institution who would ask this sort of
information in an email. And secondly - If you receive an email that appears
to be from a credit card company or other financial institution that begins
"Dear Customer", "Dear Credit Card Holder", "Dear Valued Member"...stop and
think. Would a company address you in this way if they were going to ask for
you personal information? No. The best thing to do if you're not sure is
logon to the site by typing in the URL yourself in the browser's address bar
- NEVER CLICK A LINK IN AN EMAIL THAT IS ASKING FOR YOU TO "UPDATE" YOUR
PERSONAL INFORMATION or "VERIFY" that information. NEVER CLICK A LINK IN A
LETTER LIKE THIS! If you get a letter from, let's say, Citibank, and you're
not sure if it's authentic, then open your browser, type in
www.citibank.com and contact them
directly. Or, if you prefer, call the financial institution. It's better to
be safe than sorry. Identities are most often "given away" as these types of
email trick people into giving their personal info away - Identities are
Let us try to, as
best we can, dispel the perceived risks of using a credit card online. Let's
say you're shopping at your favorite retailer, you're ready to check out.
You hand your credit card to the cashier and she/he swipes it through the
reader. Then you sign your name and you're on your way. On your way home,
you decide to stop for a nice dinner. You splurge and enjoy a great lobster
dinner, a bottle of Chateau De Morinz and then your realize you don't have
$225.00 to pay the bill. You're not worried, though. You have plastic. You
hand the credit card to your waiter and he takes it to the cashier and he
swipes it through the reader. Now your credit card has passed through the
hands of at least two people. You're trusting them that your credit card
information is not being copied and saved somewhere. Right? The waiter,
returns your card to you and you conclude your evening full and broke :-).
But, we're betting that neither time you used your credit card you gave the
slightest thought to the security in place when you were using it. After
all, you weren't puchasing "online" were you?
When your credit card is swiped through a magnetic reader the data is being
transmitted via the Internet to a database on the Internet, checked against
that database, verified and approved or not, in matter of a few seconds. The
database is online, your credit card number was entered online and your
transaction completed online. Online banking, rapidly becoming widely
popular, means that your bank account information (even if you don't avail
yourself of the convenience of online banking) is stored online.
The fact is with today's SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) and encryption
techniques, your data is very safe online. Encryption techniques used today
ensure that a different encryption key is used for each transaction, it's
randomly chosen from millions of possible combinations.
fascinating to learn how it's done. PayPal uses the most modern security
techniques and this is typically how all major credit card processing
centers are set up. You can read about PayPal's security
clicking here and you'll get a good idea of how it all works and why
it's so safe. You can tell when you're on a secure server as the "http://"
changes to "https://" .
More facts: Most credit card companies won't make you pay a cent if your
card was used fraudulently for an online purchase. That tells us they're
very confident that the safeguards in effect today are excellent. Credit
card companies are not in the business of losing money. The security
breaches you hear about online are not breaches which involve individual
transaction, rather they involve entire databases which have been
compromised because these "storage" facilities' security isn't up to snuff.
You hardly ever hear of an individual institution being breached. Security
breaches happen rarely and when they have happened in the past they have
mostly involved third-party data storage facilities which offer a service to
financial institutions. Recently these types of data storage centers have
come under intense government scrutiny both in the United States and in
So, whether you actually purchase online or you buy something at your local
retailer with a credit card, your credit card data is being stored and
transmitted over the Internet. In short: You're buying online whether you
buy from your local grocery store or from Amazon.com. We personally feel
more comfortable buying online than we do handing our credit-card to some
underpaid clerk in a local gas station. And that's our take on buying
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