Amid increasing popularity of online selling and shopping in the country, the Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP) has urged the public to be extra vigilant when transacting online.

Alex Ilagan, CCAP executive director and spokesperson said consumers have to be smart when shopping online, aware about the whole purchasing process, know who they are dealing with, and assured their account and credit card details are being dealt with safely.

Ilagan explained online shopping is certainly here to stay, and online security continues to become advance, but the use of common sense and knowledge about buying process will ensure online shopping is as safe as possible.

Safety starts with the basics and good judgment

“Basic, before you type your card details into a website, ensure that the site is secure. Look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar (or elsewhere in your browser window) and a web address beginning with https://,” Ilagan said.

To further bolster online security, CCAP revealed most of the issuing and acquiring banks today now have a system capable of monitoring online usages and flag/alert suspicious transactions, while others issue a separate credit card with lower limit specifically for internet usage.

Likewise, a number of issuing banks have a one-time or static password requirement on top of the credit card number, expiry date and card validation code as added security, while some acquiring banks would require their own acquiring system and their merchants be on 3D Secure platform.

But despite the advancement in online security, Ilagan said a careful good judgment by individuals is necessary to reduce the risk of using an untrustworthy site.

When buying online, consumers should know the identity, location and contact details of the online retailer, particularly those lesser-known online companies that do not have external stores. It is also prudent to find out if seller has a good online reputation.

“Reputation can be checked through searches of the Internet for comments from others on consumer review sites. Many reputable online companies allow people to rate their service and products on the site itself,” Ilagan said.

But before sending credit card details, consumers are advised to find out about the billing, guarantees and delivery details as some online sellers are charging additional costs on top of the original price.

Likewise, consumers have to be aware of the seller’s privacy policy. Ilagan said reputable companies will be open about how they collect data and what they do with it.

“Look for a privacy policy and learn about whether the company uses your information beyond the purchase transaction, for example, to email you with updates or deals etc. or if it passes on information to third party merchants,” the CCAP official said.

Ilagan, meanwhile, admitted that using a payment card online can put an individual at risk of card fraud, but risks can be reduced by knowing what to look out for and by being cautious.

“When you make a card transaction, you should never be asked for your PIN or online banking password. Your PIN should only be inputted by you at cash machines and physical, point-of-sale terminals,” Ilagan said.

“However, when you are making a payment online, you will be asked for the 3 or 4 digit security number (CVV2 code), which is usually found on the back of your card. Unless express permission has been given, sites are not allowed to store your card details after the transaction has been completed,” he added.

Ilagan also said it is necessary that credit cardholder should know the bank’s policy for online fraud protection as many credit card companies usually offer protection against purchases made without consent and have special clauses to include online purchases.

Dealing with disputes

If the buyers have issues with the product delivered, cardholder must immediately coordinate directly with the seller. However, should there be issues with the amount charged, or overcharging and even unauthorized purchases, like fraud, cardholder will coordinate with issuing bank.

“Common requirements are an accomplished Dispute Form which they can request from the bank as well as proof of purchase or cancellation,” Ilagan said.

Caution should be extended to emails

Meanwhile, the public is cautioned against email scams or phishing emails designed to obtain personal information, such as passwords and credit card details.

“The emails appear to be from well-known companies and can look quite convincing. However, legitimate companies, including all banks, will never send you an email with a link requesting your login, password, or credit card details,” Ilagan clarified.