How To Know A Credit Card Website Is SecureFebruary 20, 2010 - 1:51 am
While the rise of e-commerce brought the power of the global market into the home, such technological advances come with their own risks. While purchasing products over the internet is fast, easy, and fun, it also can be dangerous. There are many malicious websites that entice people looking to apply for credit cards with remarkably low interest-rates, but instead steal the personal information from the careless applicant. How can a consumer ensure their financial security?
Internet pioneers recognized the problems of online security, and invented a protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is widely used today. This system ensures that the information sent from the personal computer to the company’s central server arrives without tampering or exploitation en route. A website secured by SSL will have several key identifying features: first, the secured portions of the website will have a web address that begins “https” rather than “http,” signifying that it is a secure site. Additionally, while each web browser has a slightly different interface, they all have some sort of visual indication of a secured site. For instance, Mozilla Firefox has a small padlock icon in the bottom right-hand corner, and Safari has the same in the top right-hand corner. Also, SSL includes a dialog box that informs the user when entering or leaving a secured area of the website, thus ensuring safety before the user enters credit card information.
But the security of the transferred information is only one part of the puzzle. What if the website itself is malicious? The bad news is that you can never be entirely sure of the identity of a credit card website, but the rise of internet-based identity theft has led to a number of third-party security companies. These companies function like the online equivalent of underwriters, organizations which do website research to determine if they are providing a legitimate service or just a scam. Approved websites display a standardized icon or logo on their home page which certifies them as legitimate businesses. If you apply for a credit card, always ensure that the company has been verified by a respected internet underwriter.
With the twin tools of SSL encryption and online underwriters, consumers can be reasonably assured of the validity of the websites they browse. Much like travel in a foreign country, by playing it safe and staying to the well-lighted and secured areas, your experience will be much more pleasant. Given the fluidity of information in this technological age, no website is ever perfectly secure, but by exercising caution and careful research, you can significantly reduce the possibilities of losing money to a fraudulent source.