Tuesday, October 7, 2008

10 Tips to Secure Online Shopping that You Won't Need to Know!

Editor's Note: Before you read this story about 10 tips to prevent hackers from getting your card information when shopping online, I should let you know that ultimately, practicing these tips won't protect you. I will however, show you a simple and logical way to make your online transactions exponentially more secure...ultimately providing you and yours with the peace of mind so many online-shoppers lack, yet desire. Here's how...

Simply place an order for a HomeATM Personal Swiping Device, and you won't ever have to worry about the following 10 tips designed to "help" protect your identity when shopping online.

Even if you were to memorize and practice the art of using all 10 of these tips, you are NOT going to be protected when shopping online. You'll be more protected, but not fully protected. But there is a way to fully protect you when you shop online.

It's simple...compare the two choices:

Choice One (current method):
Think about it. Does any part of your mind, intuition, thought process, knowledge, etc. think this is a safe way to purchase anything online? Then why would you enter your card information including your card number and expiration date into a box on a website and then worry hacker will see your data or break into the the retailers system in the future, steal your data and wipe out your bank account?

Choice Two (Our Way): For the cost of shipping and handling, we'll send you our SwipePIN device and you can process your purchases online the same way you do it in retail stores.

Simply take out your card and swipe it yourself in the safety of your own home. See the numbers on the PIN pad? Yes, it even allows you to further secure the transaction with your PIN. (all data is fully encrypted). You should be "SwipePIN your Slider"

This globally patented platform brings the Point of Sale device Home...where the Point of Sale occurs. Better yet, (and here's our direct response TV commercial pitch) "Try HomeATM's SwipePIN device at home FREE for 90 days...just pay shipping and handling ($5.00) and if you're not completely convinced it's the most secure way to make your online purchases, let us know and we'll deactivate it. Otherwise, use it to send us $5.00 dollars for a total cost of only $10.00! You can now shop online safely, securely with the knowledge that both your card and card reader are hack and skim free, respectively. (You can also rest assured it hasn't been tampered with)

Until you start using the SwipePIN method, consider these tips to reduce your risks. But remember, there's keyloggers, hijackers, screen scrapers, hacktivists, wardrivers and myriad other threats that these tips don't protect you against.

Credit Card TheftTen Online shopping tips to protect your identity
This holiday season many online shoppers wanting to avoid the hassle of visiting crowded shopping malls will look to the web as a quick and easy to purchase gifts for friends and loved ones. Although the number of Canadians shopping online continues to grow, there are still many consumers who won't shop online for fear they could be victims of identity theft.

The truth is that identity theft is a relatively rare occurrence and most identity theft occurs in using low tech off-line methods therefore most experts agree that shopping online is very safe provided consumers use some common sense when shopping online.

To help make shopping online more safe and secure, Digital Home presents the following Ten Tips for Secure online holiday shopping:

1. Only provide personal information if you're on a secure Web site. Once you are logged in, make sure the Web address starts with "https"("s" means it's secure). For added safety, check for a site certificate before submitting information on a secure page. Confirm the owner of the certificate by clicking on the padlock icon at the bottom of most browsers. You should see the owner listed as well as the site address. This address should match the Web site address at the top of the page; if they do not match, you may be at a fraudulent Web site and should not enter personal data.

2. Never respond to emails asking you to "confirm" recent transactions after you shop. These likely are "phishing" scams sent to lure private information from you.

3. Maintain a paper trail. Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online confirmation/receipt, and copies of any email(s) you exchange with the seller.

4. Do not share your passwords with anyone and never provide your social insurance number, birth date, or mother's maiden name in an email.

5. Make sure all of your security software is up-to-date before you do your online shopping. That includes anti-virus software, anti-spyware, and firewalls.

6. Check a company's privacy policy before doing business with it. A company should allow you to know what personal information its Web site is collecting, why and how it will be used. If you can't find a privacy policy -- or if you can't understand it -- consider taking your business to another site that's more security-conscious and accommodating to customers.

7. Consider using a separate email account for your online shopping. You can set up a free email account online through several different services.

8. Check your bank and visa accounts regularly for any activity you did not initiate. This is especially needed during the busy holiday shopping season. You should be able to log on quickly and check to see if there is any unusual activity in your bank or credit card account that you did not initiate. If there is, contact your bank immediately.

9. Do business with companies you know and trust. Research a company before revealing personal or financial information online. Confirm an online seller's physical address and phone number in case you need to get in touch with them. If you get an email or pop-up message from the seller while you're browsing that asks for financial information, don't reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email or pop-ups.

10. Watch out for fake "look-alike" sites. Some con artists disguise their Web site as a well-known company's site. Check your browser's address bar to make sure you're always using the correct Web site address. If the Web site seems suspicious, leave it immediately and call the company.

Finally and perhaps the most important piece of common sense when shopping online is one that is true when shopping offline - Never let anyone see your card numbers and never hand your card over.

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US Consumer Payments Study: PIN Debit Continues to Gain in Popularity

Hitachi Consulting: News Article
Electronic Payments Now Account for Majority of Consumer Payments

DALLAS - Oct. 6, 2008 - Consumers are increasingly using electronic payments at the expense of cash and checks, according to a new nationwide consumer payment preferences study conducted by BAI and Hitachi Consulting. The research was sponsored by First Data Corporation and its STAR® Network, Harland Clarke, MasterCard Worldwide, Metavante, and PULSE.

The 2008 Study of Consumer Payment Preferences found that 63 percent of all consumer purchases are made using electronic payment methods. Electronic payments now account for the majority of payments across all three major payment venues-including bill payment. Internet payments have always been predominantly electronic, almost by default. For in-store payments, the balance between paper and electronic payments shifted in 2003, leaving bill payment as the last bastion of paper-based payments. This is no longer the case, however, as paper-based payments' share of bill payments shrank from 55 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2008.

"Bill payment has historically been a stronghold for checks," said Ajay Nagarkatte, managing director of Syndicated Research at BAI. "But increases in the adoption and usage of online bill payment over the past three years have significantly eroded the number of paper checks being mailed to pay bills."

Retail store purchases account for the majority of consumer payments. For in-store purchases, the migration to electronic payments continues to be driven by the increasing popularity of card-based payments, particularly debit. PIN and signature debit now account for 37 percent of consumers' in-store purchases, up from 21 percent in 1999.

Checks and now cash are giving way to card-based payments at the point of sale. Checks' share of in-store purchases has declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 8 percent in 2008, and after holding relatively steady for the past several years, cash has dropped to 29 percent. Contrary to robust forecasts, gift/prepaid card's share of purchases has not increased significantly over the past three years.

Looking forward, electronic payments will likely continue to erode the share of payments made using paper-based methods. As one young consumer observed when answering the survey, "paper is old school!", and over the next two years, consumers expect to increase their use of debit and decrease their use of checks and gift/prepaid cards.

"I expect the shift from paper to electronic payments to continue as consumers increase their use of cards and new forms of electronic payments gain traction," said Chris Allen, director of consulting services in the Financial Services Practice at Hitachi Consulting. "Although the proliferation of payment methods increases the complexity of managing payments, it also creates opportunities for financial institutions and payment service providers. There are a lot of changes taking place, and it's an exciting time to be in the industry."

About the Study

The 2008 Study of Consumer Payment Preferences is the definitive guide to how consumers pay in different venues, why, and how their payment habits are likely to evolve going forward. The study provides insights into consumer behavior and preferences across three important payment venues: retail point-of-sale (in-stores), Internet purchases, and bill payments. Findings from the 2008 Study are based on an online survey administered by Harris Interactive, and completed by a nationally representative sample of 3,308 U.S. consumers in June 2008. The sampling error for the national sample was +/- 1.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

This study is the fifth in a series of studies tracking consumers' payment habits, preferences and their migration from paper to electronic payments, and is a follow on to studies conducted in 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005 by Dove Consulting (which was acquired by Hitachi Consulting in 2005) in conjunction with the American Bankers Association. To inquire about purchasing the study, please call Chris Allen, director of consulting services, Payment Strategy Group, Hitachi Consulting, at 617-753-9250 or Ajay Nagarkatte, managing director, Syndicated Research, BAI, at 312-683-2486.
Finextra: Americans shun paper for e-payments - survey
Nearly two thirds of all US consumer payments are now made electronically as Americans increasingly turn away from cash and cheques, according to research from BAI and Hitachi Consulting.

A poll of 3308 US consumers - sponsored by First Data, Harland Clarke, MasterCard, Metavante and Pulse - found electronic payments are now the majority across all three major venues - bill, Internet and in-store.

Until recently bill payments were the last bastion of cash and cheques - with the two forms of payment accounting for 55% of total bill payments in 2005 - but this has slipped to 38% in 2008.

"Bill payment has historically been a stronghold for cheques," says Ajay Nagarkatte, MD of syndicated research at BAI. "But increases in the adoption and usage of online bill payment over the past three years have significantly eroded the number of paper cheques being mailed to pay bills."

PIN and signature debit cards continue to gain in popularity for in-store payments, accounting for 37% of purchases in 2008, compared to 21% in 1999.

In contrast, the use of cheques to pay for in-store purchases has declined from 18% in 1999 to eight per cent in 2008. After holding relatively steady for the past few years, the use of cash has now dropped to 29%.

However, the survey shows that contrary to robust forecasts, gift and pre-paid cards have not seen a significant increase in take up over the last three years.

Chris Allen, director, consulting services, financial services practice, Hitachi Consulting, says: "I expect the shift from paper to electronic payments to continue as consumers increase their use of cards and new forms of electronic payments gain traction."

Earlier this year a US study released by TowerGroup forecasted a continuing decline in cheque volumes - from 22.1 billion items in 2006 to 17.9 billion by the end of 2009 - as consumers turn to electronic payments.

Figures from TowerGroup and the Federal Reserve show that cheques have lost their dominance in the US payments market, shrinking from a 46% share of total non-cash payment volume in 2003 to 31% in 2006.

TowerGroup says this fall has been driven by a desire among consumers to be able to pay bills and make purchases in faster and more convenient ways.

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Amazon to Bill Me Later...And Your Done?

Editor's Note: My initial thought on this deal was that the founder and shareholders of Bill Me Later bailed because of the upcoming consumer credit crisis.  In today's economic climate, if they adjust the amount of credit it offers customers the way credit card companies are, then eBay chose very unwisely with this buy.  I'm reading articles all over the Internet about credit card companies lowering credit limits, raising interest rates, etc. etc.  I think that Bill Me Later got the best of this deal.   (Look in "related articles" below for the one from TechCrunch)
 Will Amazon Ditch Bill Me Later After eBay Takes Over?

Yesterday eBay said it would spend $945 million to buy online payment company Bill Me Later, but the folks over at Amazon.com aren’t likely to welcome eBay as Bill Me Later’s new corporate overlords. Amazon holds an equity stake in the payment processing company and is its top customer — with competitor eBay moving to buy it, Amazon has some thinking to do.

Amazon doesn’t have a board seat at Bill Me Later, and as such was probably not involved in the acquisition talks. The question now is whether it will continue to offer Bill Me Later as a payment option. As far as merchants go, Bill Me Later is cheaper than credit cards. But so far Amazon.com, which previously scorned PayPal because of its ties to eBay, has been non-committal about its plans. It said in a statement, “Currently, Bill Me Later is still available as a payment option on our site, but I can’t speculate as to whether we’ll continue to offer them going forward.”

From a payments perspective, eBay has chosen wisely with this buy.  PayPal is a debit-oriented program, while Bill Me Later caters to those who are shy about using their credit cards online but don’t want to deal with the hassle of PayPal by offering them credit after they enter their information. While that may seem downright foolish in this economic environment, Bill Me Later investor Mike Kwatinetz of Azure Capital Partners says the company is able to quickly adjust the amount of credit it offers customers. 

PayPal has the largest number of the top online retailers using its service, but Bill Me Later has an opportunity to process more transactions, according to data issued last month by research firm Cowen & Co. PayPal’s penetration rate of the top 300 U.S. e-commerce companies rose to 35 percent as of September from 28 percent at the end of last year, but Bill Me Later has $31.6 billion in addressable sales, compared to $26.1 billion for PayPal. Bill Me Later’s top customers (other than Amazon) include OfficeMax, Apple, Newegg, and QVC. Underscoring Amazon’s eBay aversion? All of those merchants also accept PayPal.

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