What is the most foolproof way to avoid identity theft and account hacking when buying online?

Anonymous July 10, 2013
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I was wondering what the best way to avoid having a credit account hacked when buying online.

I would think the services that involve very low credit limits, and the absence of money in the account is the best way. It completely eliminates the idea of password theft from my local PC or from the Internet company that stores my information.

Toward that end – by buying a visa or mastercard Credit Card in a drug store and filling it as needed, say using cash withdrawn from a debit account – wouldn’t that be the safest way, even if not the most convenient ?

Please share how you go about protecting yourself.

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  1. Christine S
    July 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    prepaid disposable credit cards purchased just about anywhere, like the local grocery, visa mastercard, dept. stores, and pay with cash for the card.

  2. Oron J
    July 11, 2013 at 11:50 am

    There's nothing you can do to avoid your credit card account being hacked altogether, since the hacking may not be into your computer, but rather then vendor's web site., or your bank's, or VISA... (it happened before, and will probably happen again!).

    However, there are a few things you can do to minimise the risk, such as
    1. Make sure you have a good, up-to-date AV on your computer.
    2. For each website, use a different, secure password. This is _cricital_ since a lot of ID theft happens by using details from one web site to get onto others, collecting information along the way and eventually having enough to forge your ID elsewhere.
    3. Use a charge up credit card if available in your area for online transactions. These cards need to be "loaded up" with money prior to the transaction, so only hold a little value at a time, and will not work if they're out of credit, minimising the risk.

  3. Switchblade S
    July 11, 2013 at 6:02 am

    If you have Avast Internet Security, they also have an app similar to Bitdefender SafePay

  4. Matt Smith
    July 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

    You can try a secure transaction app like Bitdefender Safepay. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/secure-your-online-transactions-with-bitdefenders-safepay/

    These apps open a browser in a security sandbox so it's not possible for any malware that might be installed on your PC to keylog your information or screencap it.

    • Bruce E
      July 11, 2013 at 11:32 am

      This can help with the transaction itself, but most accounts are not compromised in this manner. They tend to be the result of vendors or credit card companies themselves getting hacked in which case, Safepay doesn't help.

      You could go with using PayPal for the additional protection it can provide with online transactions or look into virtual credit cards or one-time use credit cards. Some banks also allow you to create a temproary credit card number that links to your real credit card number for a single transaction. That way, if the vendor gets hacked, the hackers get a totally useless credit card number and your account remains safe.