Using your credit card to make online purchases via your iPhone, Android, or PC has become so common that not typing in those numbers likely means you’ll be spending way too much time circling around stores in search of what you need.
But it’s important to remember that the Web is still the Wild West in some ways, and that taking care to not give out personal banking info to anyone who asks can save you from theft.
This is the scary mistake you’re making when you give an app your credit card information.
Even though so many of us are simply heading to Amazon’s website and filling up our carts left and right, there plenty of items that you can’t get via the retail giant — like indie fashion and handcrafted home decor.
If you perform a Google search for an item and find the perfect scarf or night table on a site you don’t ordinarily frequent, the first important step before you provide your banking info is to look closely at the website’s URL address.
There are two types of URL prefixes: HTTP and HTTPS. According to security experts, you’re taking a major risk any time to give up your financial info to a site that starts with HTTP:
“HTTPS is a protocol for secure communication over a computer network which is widely used on the Internet,” Robert McKee, lawyer and certified international privacy professional, told Reader’s Digest. “Its main motivation is authentication of the visited website and protection of the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data.”
In other words: if you see “HTTPS” it means the site is secure and making a payment is much safer. If you absolutely have to pay a site that starts with “HTTP,” the best thing to do is transfer money via a third-party payment system like PayPal (but it’s always better to find a different item on a more secure site).
Another fishy sign to look out for? Websites and retailers that lack reviews or have accumulated a number of poor reviews. An online retailer (big or small) should, ideally, have reviews, several links, and social media accounts so that you can feel more secure trusting it with your money.