Should You Be Concerned Using Your Credit Card Online?

Credit Cards

Long holiday weekends – something I look forward to every year.

It’s an opportunity for me to completely unwind and not have to really do anything but relax.

Black Friday morning shortly after 11, I was relaxing comfortably in my La-Z-Boy rocking chair watching TV. 

I glanced over when I saw my iPhone screen light up with a message.  My phone didn’t beep, so I knew it wasn’t a text or Facebook message or someone sending me a Snapchat.

Rather, it was notification from Capital One informing me my business credit card had just been authorized for a $149.79 purchase at FinishLine.com.  Considering I hadn’t been using my computer yet that morning and that my credit card was tucked safely in my wallet, I knew something was amiss.  (Plus, I don’t use the business card for personal purchases. 

So much for only relaxing the entire weekend!

I quickly called Capital One customer service to report the fraudulent activity.  I also explained to them the need to have a replacement card issued ASAP since this is the card used for nearly all my business purchases – including recurring bill payments, many of which would be attempted in three days .

Luckily, the phone call only took about 30 minutes of my time.  Now I could resume my important activity for the day – doing nothing!

When I’m assisting clients with their computers, the topic of the safety of conducting financial transactions online frequently comes up.

Some clients, like myself, never give a second thought to purchasing items from retailers’ websites, paying bills online, or transacting business on the bank’s website.

We consider the security protocols, the encryption settings, and other features to be sufficient to protect us the majority of the time 

Other clients, though, are either more hesitant or adamantly refuse to even consider the option of doing anything financially on the Internet – even when it’s with companies they trust.

For example, a client recently wanted to upgrade his computer’s antivirus protection to our Advanced Protection plan, which dramatically reduces the risk for a PC to become infected with viruses or malware by preventing you from going to websites known to harm your computer.

When I explained to him the process of doing so, and that it involved monthly billing to his credit card, he sternly said, “I’m not giving ANYONE access to my credit card or bank accounts.”

I understand the concerns of those who wonder if it’s safe to use credit cards online or do online banking with their financial institution.

Bottom line, yes there are risks involved.  But no different than other risks you and I take every day.

Think of how many times you expose yourself to risks in these scenarios:

  • You dine at a sit-down restaurant where the server brings your check and you pay him or her.  Do you think twice about handing your credit card to the server, who then walks away from your table out of sight to process your payment?

It would be extremely easy for a less than honest server to copy your credit card number, expiration date, and CVV code without you knowing – and then use it to make online purchases.

  • Do you have any funds direct deposited into your bank account?  Paychecks.  Pension checks.  Social Security payments.

Do you have any payments automatically deducted from your bank account?  Utility bills.  Insurance payments.  Car payments.  House payments.

If those institutions’ computer networks got hacked, the thieves could potentially get access to your bank account numbers.

I agree you and I must make wise choices and take safety precautions with our online financial activities. 

But you can’t live in fear – and totally avoid the conveniences technology offers you.

It would be akin to saying that because foreign or domestic terrorists might be plotting a sinister attack in a public place you or I frequent, we’re going to just stay home all the time.

Having made thousands of online purchases and countless other online transactions, this is only the second time one of my credit cards has had been compromised.

I encourage you – be smart, be vigilant, be proactive – but don’t live in fear.

Scott Hartley, President/CEO

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