As a debt settlement professional, many questions regarding credit card use arise through the course the workday.
One in particular has come up often enough, and coupled with my own home wifi network setup, and inspired a little research on my part.
How safe is it to use a credit card for an online payment while connected to a Wi-Fi network?
The first thing to address is how secure is your Wi-Fi network in general? The ideal situation after you buy your wireless router is to plug it in and change all the factory settings. If a hacker really wanted to hunt for an opening, many of the factory settings will give them half of the equation so change them and add a password to your network.
If you are in a public place, such as a coffee shop, be safe. Make sure it is a secure, password enabled network.
Second, be smart about how and where you use your credit card information. When you are shopping or banking on the internet, you want to make sure you are visiting a secure site. Typically this is through an SSL certificate and is easily determined by https: in the address (instead of http:). Many browsers also have other icons that indicate a secure webpage (i.e. a padlock) to help you acknowledge a secure page versus an insecure page.
While it is convenient to store your credit card information on the websites on which you are shopping, you are effectively spreading it around to multiple servers on the internet. Depending on where you shop, you may never experience any problem with doing this. But, keep in mind, you are relying on those webhosts to keep your information safe.
As an alternative, you can keep your card in your wallet and type the numbers anytime you want to use it. This will limit your exposure though increase the time spent on checkout.
In summary, look for encryption on the network. If you can access the internet on a new network without entering a password (a free wifi hotspot), do not use your credit card. If you are connected securely to the internet, make sure the webpage is secure by looking for HTTPS.
Enjoy and don’t spend too much. 🙂