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What are the safest ways to pay online?

Online transactions have become an everyday occurrence for much of the world. Whether it’s paying bills online or just some casual shopping, the convenience of paying online instead of in person can’t be denied. However, with the potential threat of hackers and fraudsters getting hold of your credentials, do you have safer ways to pay online than just using credit and debit cards?

Charles Whitmore

Charles Whitmore

What are the safest ways to pay online?

What are the risks of paying online?

As our lives become increasingly digitized, so too has crime. Cybercrime statistics have grown worryingly worse over the past few years. Over half of all Americans admit to having suffered at the hands of a cybercriminal at least once.

Hackers are always looking for a chance to commit identity theft and harvest card credentials. The rise of socially engineered attacks has shown the increasingly insidious methods that cybercriminals will stoop to. By tricking a victim into believing a fake website is legitimate, hackers can trick people into freely giving away important credentials.

For example, a tech-savvy criminal could create a website that’s a copy of a legitimate banking site. By sending out bogus emails stating that the victim has a fine to pay, hackers could direct them to the fake site that mirrors the same login screen. It’s only a matter of time before someone falls for the trick and gives away their banking details. To shop safely online, different methods need to be explored.

What are the best ways to pay online?

Just because a credit card has built-in buyer protection doesn’t mean it’s the best method of paying online. The best ways to pay online typically require multiple forms of identification or authentication until the payment can be authorized.

Different payment methods that require 2FA, or two-factor authentication, are a perfect example. By asking for identification in the form of something a hacker would struggle to replicate, the payment method immediately becomes much safer than if it were just asking for credit card information.

What are some different payment methods?

Due to the rise in digital crime and online scams, many different payment methods have cropped up over the past few years. PayPal and Venmo are some of the more recognizable names when it comes to paying online. These services act as an intermediary between the customer and the shop. Once a card has been connected to the PayPal account, any potential fraud can be disputed through PayPal itself, which will issue refunds fairly quickly.

Other than the intermediary payment safety options, what else is out there?

Mobile payment methods

These forms of payment are built into the phones. The main three, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay, use similar forms of protection and authentication methods. All of the big three companies claim they don’t store or have access to cards used.

  • Is Apple Pay safe? Apple users can authenticate payments with a face scan, fingerprint, or password. When paying online or in-store, Apple pay will only send a transaction-specific authentication code rather than sharing the full card details.
  • Is Samsung Pay safe? Samsung users gain access to Samsung pay’s tokenization method, in which a unique, randomized set of numbers is used instead of your actual credit card details. Similarly, users can authenticate with a fingerprint or passcode.
  • Is Google Pay safe? Google uses a similar method as Samsung, where a unique encrypted code is provided to merchants rather than the full card details. Users can also remotely disable payment methods if they ever lose their phone. As with other smartphones, users can authenticate with biometrics or a passcode.

Shop Pay

Shop pay is a convenience tool. It saves important checkout details so you don’t have to enter them again each time you make a new purchase. For those who use Shopify, Shop pay should be very recognizable.

Is Shop Pay safe? Shopify’s payment method protects and encrypts card details when saved on the app. When it comes to authorizing a payment, users will be sent a six-digit code to enter before any money can be exchanged.

Advantages and disadvantages of different payment methods

The main advantage of all the different payment methods available to consumers is increased security. By having more than one form of authentication needed to finish purchases, users are essentially doubling and, in some cases tripling, their online security strength. Even if a criminal were to steal someone’s phone, they would still need the victim’s biometrics or password to unlock and use the payment options.

The biggest disadvantage when it comes to alternate payment is coverage. While credit cards are accepted worldwide, it’s not quite the same when it comes to mobile payments or even PayPal in some cases. This disadvantage will eventually disappear once most places accept all forms of payment but for now, it’s always best to check before assuming a shop will accept Samsung or Google Pay, for example.

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Charles Whitmore
Charles Whitmore Charles Whitmore
Charles is a content writer with a passion for online privacy and freedom of knowledge. A technophile with a weakness for full Smart Home integration – he believes everyone should strive to keep up-to-date with their cybersec.