Safe online shopping can be yours when you understand online security and the options you have to ensure that you don't suffer from online identity theft or credit identity theft.

Purchase from a Trustworthy Website with Online Security

The first thing that you want to look at before making an online transaction is whether or not you are purchasing the product from a reputable company. Is this site a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? Look for verification of this on the website where you make a purchase, by locating a logo at the bottom of the page.

Next, you want to make sure that your actual transaction is secure. Most websites (and all legitimate ones) purchase online security to ensure that at the point of transaction, your identifying and financial information is not hacked into. An easy way to tell if the website you are purchasing from has a security system in place is if the url on the page of the transaction has an "s" after the http. It will look like this: https://.

Use a Virtual Credit Card

One of the advantages of using credit cards and debit cards is that you can purchase things online with the protection of a company behind you. This is important for any disputes that may arise for unshipped/unreceived items, damaged goods, and returned items. However, giving out your credit card could lead to online credit identity theft. Another option that you have to pay for online transactions is called a virtual credit card.

When using a virtual credit card, you will be given a credit card number (not an actual credit card), for a one-time use. After that, the number expires, and therefore cannot be stolen and used by other people. Different banks, such as Citibank, Discover, and Bank of America, offer these numbers, so check with each on how to obtain and use them.

Other Options

Some websites have the option of being billed later through a program called Bill Me Later. This could be a great option for you if you do not wish to put any identifying or financial information into a website as the bill will be mailed to your home by the Bill Me Later company, not the actual website you are purchasing from. This means that you will need to put your home address and phone number into the Bill Me Later website, but this website is recognized by the Better Business Bureau recognized company.

PayPal is another reputable company where you put your information into the PayPal website, not the website where you are making a transaction.

Finally, you can always purchase visa or mastercard gift cards that can be used on any site, but have a prepaid amount on them. Just remember that you will likely have to register your card online in order to use it for online transactions (refer to the instructions your card comes with).