An important part of conducting a successful online business is the ability to make payments and receive payments through credit cards. However, the very fact that you’ll be using your credit card details in various online sites could be exposing you to the danger of identity theft.

Identity thieves could gain access to your credit card records in the following ways:

•By targeting you with spyware in your email which you accidently download

•Hacking your business data base

•Enticing you with online offers that require you to share your personal details

•Accessing your password information

•Stealing your documents such as bills, bank statements or check books

This, however, should not deter you from conducting your business as usual. The key to stay safe during online transactions is to exercise the following cautionary measures:

1.First and most importantly, memorize your PIN and shred any documentary evidence of it. Do not save it to your phone or store it in your documents folder. As well, don’t store your credit card number on your computer.

2.Avoid sharing your personal information online unless you are sure the person or entity asking for it is doing so for legitimate reasons.

3.Do not share any credit card information on the phone. Many credit card users have been scammed by people calling on the phone pretending to be from the bank or a credit card issuer. These identity thieves will make the phone call sound urgent and they will say things like, ‘your card will be cancelled and we would like you to read us the details so that we can reset it’, or something along those lines. The fact is, if the entity calling you is legitimate, then they should already have your card details with them.

4.If you receive any suspicious calls, visit your credit card issuer to check whether any suspicious activities have taken place on your card. If you hold a gem visa card, you can find their contact details on www.gemvisa.co.nz and contact them with disputes.

5.If you have a business data base that contains customer details, invest in proper security systems to keep it safe. If customer information gets stolen, the credibility of your business could get ruined.

6.Invest in a laptop to transact with while on the move. Any computer you use will store your browsing history; therefore the only way to make sure you don’t leave important details for others to see is by getting a personal laptop.

7.If you have a laptop that you travel with, use biometrics security instead of a PIN or password to unlock and lock it. If the password is easy to guess, someone will gain access to all your information very easily.

8.Disable the ‘auto-complete’ function in your PC and laptop, especially if it’s likely that other people could gain access to it. If someone gains access to any sites that require a password and you have auto complete on, it will be easy for them to guess the full password. As well, disable ‘remember password’ function.

9.If you are usually away from home for prolonged periods, notify your mail and delivery service to hold on to your mail until you return home.

10.Always closely check your credit card statements to ensure that all the transactions were made by you.

11.Do not dispose papers containing personal information without shredding. If you don’t have a shredder, burn them.

The key to preventing identity theft is vigilance. When you are extremely careful, you can conduct your online business without the fear that identity thieves will hack your computer and steal your details.