9 Tips to Ensure Online Transactions Are Secure

In 2010, e-commerce sales in the United States were nearly $170 billion. In 2015, online shopping is expected to generate $350 billion — and by 2018, that number could rise to $500 billion.

Americans clearly love shopping online, and retailers are only too happy to indulge them. Yet, despite the ease and convenience of e-commerce, online shopping carries certain risks. Transactions are mostly anonymous and instantaneous, making Web-based shopping carts easy targets for fraudulent activity.

This is especially true as EMV credit cards become the standard for in-store retail purchases. Because chip-enabled credit cards offer greater security within brick-and-mortar stores, thieves are increasingly turning to the online world. Some experts predict that Web-based credit card fraud could approach $6.4 billion by 2018.

Against this backdrop, how can online shoppers and merchants protect themselves?

Security Tips for E-Commerce Shoppers
Below are some best practices for online consumers:

1. Stick with Trusted Vendors
Only buy from reputable merchants that you already trust. If visiting an unfamiliar e-commerce store, use sites like  Scam Advisor to verify that merchant’s history.

2. Enable Browser Security
Most standard browsers come with native security features like anti-phishing protection and cookie verification. These settings aren’t always turned on by default, so you may need to enable them manually.

3. Avoid Using Public Terminals
Don't shop online using public computers at Internet cafes, coffee shops or libraries. Many hackers use logging software to capture keystrokes on unsecured terminals.

4. Look for HTTP “S”
Generic Web pages usually begin with “http,” but secure pages include an additional “s.” Never provide sensitive information on any URL that doesn't carry the complete “https” prefix.

5. Use Credit over Debit
Most credit cards offer fraud protection that limits your liability as a shopper. Debit cards don't always provide this feature. Whenever you have the option, use your credit card over your bank card.

Security Tips for E-Commerce Merchants
As an online vendor, use the following tips to keep your customers' payment data safe from prying eyes:

6. Secure Payment Gateway
The best line of defense is to work with a payment processor that offers a PCI-compliant  payment gateway with advanced protection against online fraud. You can also explore secure  hosted payment pages that further reduce your exposure.

7. Require CVV Codes
Require shoppers to provide their "card verification value" ( CVV) codes during the checkout process. This is the three-digit number on the back of the credit card, or four-digit number on the front for American Express. When cloning plastic, thieves usually only have access to the 16-digit numbers on the front of the card.

8. Invest in Tokenization
Tokenization is an advanced security feature in which sensitive financial data is replaced with unique token IDs that are useless to hackers. They won’t be able to see your customers' card numbers, usernames or contact information.

9. Look for Obvious Red Flags
When it comes to credit card fraud, many of the  warning signs that exist in the physical retail world also apply to online shopping, but e-commerce merchants should also be wary of "throwaway" emails like [email protected] If the shipping address differs from the billing address, you may want to take a closer look at that transaction.

Want More Online Security Tips?
The above best practices are by no means exhaustive, and online thieves continuously refine their tactics. For a more comprehensive list of the latest online security tips, contact our  payment support team today.

Kristen Gramigna is the Chief Marketing Officer for  BluePay a credit card processing firm. She has more than 20 years of experience in the bankcard industry helping small businesses succeed.

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