When a website address does not begin with “HTTPS”
If you don’t see these five letters in the address bar of the website you are trying to make a payment on, it means the site is not secure. “HTTPS is a protocol for secure communication over a computer network which is widely used on the Internet,” explains Robert McKee, lawyer and certified international privacy professional. “Its main motivation is authentication of the visited website and protection of the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data.” When the URL begins with “HTTPS,” the site is secure, and you are safe to use a credit card. If the site does not include an “s” in this beginning part of the URL, opt out of the online purchase, and try using a third-party payment system like PayPal instead. These sites act as another barrier between an organization and your credit information. If all else fails, try paying in person. And while you’re at it, avoid these 8 credit cards that you should never, ever open.
When you’re responding to an email
It is actually better to provide your credit card to someone over the phone (only when you have initiated the call—more on that later) or even via text message than it is to respond with your credit card number in an email. “There is a technique called ‘phishing’ or ‘spear phishing’, and it involves emails that are designed to extract your credit card number for an unauthorized purchase,” warns Stephen Lesavich, PhD, JD, attorney, credit card expert, and best-selling author. Before clicking on any link, look for phishing clues like spelling mistakes, strange use of English, and logos that look off. Another technique is to hover over a link while not clicking on it and see if you can recognize the URL. Look for the same site outside your email and compare them. If there is anything suspicious, do not make the purchase or make it from another site.