Money & Banking

5 times to never use your credit card for payment

5 times to never use your credit card for payment

Credit cards might be convenient and reliable, but here are some scenarios where swiping or entering your digits could be dangerous.
1. 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.

2. 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.

They’re smart, they’re sneaky, and they want your personal information.

3. When charity fundraisers approach you on the street

Quite often, and mostly in big cities, you’ll see charity fundraisers walking the streets in an attempt to collect donations in the form of money for a variety of causes – the environment, child welfare, and pet care, to name just a few.

They might only ask to take your name down so they can contact you at a later date, but if they ask you for your credit card, beware.

“These causes are known to target people’s emotions to get them to donate,” warns Lesavich.

“Although legitimate in some cases, they could instead be scams to charge your credit card and get your credit card information.”

If you want to contribute to these causes, a safer bet is to visit their website, check that it’s secure and then make a donation from there.

4. When speaking to anyone over the phone

Try to avoid giving your credit card information over the phone for the simple reason that you don’t know where it will go once you hang up.

You also don’t know who’s listening in on the call – whether it’s people around you, someone else on the line, or even the person on the other end of the phone who’s taking down your digits.

“One of the most common examples of card information being given over the phone is through delivery food purchases,” says Jeremy Brant, VP of Information Technology for .

“In situations like these, or other instances where a vendor is asking for card information over the phone, order the service online or pay cash in person.”

With delivery food, should the location not have its own website (or the website is not secure), third-party smartphone apps can fill in the gap.

5. When an online merchant has no reviews

If you’re considering buying from a merchant on any type of marketplace – from eBay to Etsy – look them up online. If you Google them and there’s only one listing for the merchant, with no online reviews, no past experiences from other customers, and no social media accounts, you should think twice about handing over your card.

This is true for online merchants, of course, but real-world merchants as well. “The Internet has given consumers a much more effective way to gauge the reputation of the companies we do business with, so use it,” suggests Adam Jusko, founder and CEO of a card comparison and news site.

Along these same lines, look for contact information on the websites you buy from, including address and phone number if you’re unfamiliar with the merchant.

“Cross reference the address and phone numbers by looking them up in a search engine to see if they match the merchant.”

Written by Jenn Sinrich. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.