While many people worry about typing and sending credit card numbers over the Internet, the reality is that few credit card numbers are stolen off the Net. Not only would a potential thief need to tap into your Internet account at the exact moment you're sending your credit card number to a website, but he or she would have to break the encryption scheme that many websites use to protect your credit card numbers online.
If someone's going to steal your credit card number, they're more likely to get it by breaking into the computers of a large organization, such as Amazon.com or CD Universe, and stealing the credit card numbers stored there. Such companies may also have the odd untrustworthy employee who has access to the company's list of customer credit card numbers, and who can steal a number simply by copying it off the computer screen.
Credit card fraud is actually much more troublesome for merchants, because merchants are responsible for verifying credit card orders. If a thief steals someone's credit card and orders thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, the merchant pays for the loss, not the owner of the stolen credit card.
So if you're a merchant, be extra careful when accepting credit card orders. To help protect your business, follow these guidelines:
Validate the full name, address, and phone number for every order. Be especially vigilant with orders that list different "bill to" and "ship to" addresses.
Watch out for any orders that come from free email services (http://hotmail.com, http://juno.com, http://usa.net, etc.). Free email accounts are easy to set up with phony identities, which means most credit card thieves will list a free email account when asked for an email address.When accepting an order from a free email account, request additional information before processing the order, such as asking for a non-free email address, the name and phone number of the bank that issued the credit card, the exact name on the credit card, and the exact billing address. Most credit card thieves will avoid such requests for additional information and look for a less vigilant merchant to con.
Be especially careful of extremely large orders that request next-day delivery. Thieves usually want their merchandise as quickly as possible, before they can be discovered.
Likewise, be careful when shipping products to an international address. Validate as much information as possible by email or preferably by phone.
For more information about protecting yourself from credit card frauds and other online thievery, visit the AntiFraud website at http://www.antifraud.com.