With the advent of high-speed Internet connections and e-commerce, online shopping has become commonplace and for many consumers, preferable to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. However, despite its obvious conveniences, online shopping also poses some risks, especially if you are submitting credit card information to make a payment. Follow these simple tips to ensure your online payments and credit card information remain secure:

Things You Will Need

- Credit card
- Store policies
- Secure sites
- Virtual account

Step 1

Shop Only with Reputable Websites

This may sound simple but consumers are often duped by websites that appear legitimate but in reality are not. Make sure the merchant is one that you know and trust (such as major retailers) or check the online Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the merchant.

Step 2

Read Store Policies

If you are investigating a merchant prior to making a purchase, carefully review their terms of service and privacy policy to ensure they encrypt your credit card and personal information and do not sell your information (such as your email address or phone number) to third parties.

Step 3

Is the Site Secure?

There are a few ways to determine whether or not an ecommerce website is secure. First, look for SSL (secure socket layer) certification in the address bar; a website URL that reads "https" instead of just "http" indicates the site is secure and encrypts confidential information. Another way to tell if a website is secure is to look for the lock icon. Located in the corner of your browser (not on the web page itself!), this icon will show you the details of a site's security – simply double-click on the icon. Remember, all sites asking you for sensitive information should be secured using SSL!

Step 4

Use Credit Cards

As opposed to debit cards – credit cards provide better protection against fraud than debit cards. If a fraudulent purchase is made using a credit card, you can issue a chargeback and get your money back from the merchant.

Step 5

Use a Virtual Account

In a similar vein, there are a wide variety of payment processors that allow you to use temporary virtual accounts to make purchases instead of your actual credit card number. A temporary, single-use account number is given to you to make a purchase online. The number is tied to your actual account so while the money will be debited from your credit card, you don't have to actually give online merchants your real credit card number when making online payments.

Step 6

Look for Comprehensive Customer Service

Be wary of any website that doesn't offer a toll-free customer service number. Websites that only offer customer support via email or no customer support at all may be scams. Array

Tips & Warnings

If any of the e-commerce websites you are dealing with seem a little bit "fishy", don't hesitate to look them up on some of the consumer review sites or ripoffreport.com to verify their legitimacy.