Is it safe to store your credit card information online?

Whether you’re booking tickets, buying clothes, furniture or even your groceries, almost everything can be purchased online. In fact, online shopping has become a preferred method of shopping because it’s fast and convenient – you can do it while out and about or from the comfort of your home.

However, there are always safety considerations when making financial transactions online. One area to exercise caution is if a retailer asks your permission to store your card details on their site after the transaction has been completed.

If you use a retailer often, there are a few things for you to consider. In the first half of 2019 alone 23 million credit cards were stolen worldwide. And many other major companies have suffered data breaches in the past few years, where hackers have stolen customer personal details including credit card information. So, to ensure that your data is protected online, you have to trust the company you’ve shared your card details with, and this still won’t ever guarantee you 100% security – since unfortunately, anyone could suffer a data breach or cyber attack.

However, if you do decide to store information on a retailer’s site, make sure to use your credit card instead of a debit card. This should give you some legal rights to reverse a transaction if there’s a problem with an item you’ve bought, or you suspect fraud.

Another useful tip is to use a virtual credit card instead of your real one. The virtual credit card gives you a number that is tied to your credit card for a short-term use and provides another layer of security.

If you have previously allowed a retailer to store your credit card number and you no longer want them to do so, you should contact them and ask for your card details to be deleted.

Here are a few things to consider when entering your card details online:

  • Ensure that the retail site is secure and trustworthy. Look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar in a web address beginning with https://
  • Make sure that when you buy something online you’re not using public WiFi
  • When you make a card transaction, you should never be asked for your PIN or online banking password
  • You will be asked for the 3 or 4-digit security number (‘CVV2 code’), usually found on the back of your card
  • Check your credit card statements regularly for any inconsistencies, as it could be a sign of fraud

With the GDPR coming into force on 25 May 2018, organizations have a duty to keep our online information safe and private. Under this regulation, once we’ve handed in our personal data, we have the right to access, change and request to delete what they have stored.

While storing your credit card information is convenient, it’s a risk you need to weigh against the retailers’ ability to keep your information safe and the ingenuity of hackers.