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VISA, MasterCard and American Express Secure Payment Systems via Verified Merchant Accounts
In the old days we depended on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and telephone calls. It's all changed now. Any kid can buy a phone for $10 or use Skype, so phone is irrelevant. And cash is no longer the main method of payment. So... Never send any money via Western Union, money order and the like. This is what scammers use.
In the post-cash economy, the only reliable indicator of a legitimate business is its access the secure payment systems offered by Visa, MasterCard, Discovery and American Express.
Some people may not know that unless you have a verified merchant account (an account that is linked to an actual bank and business), you can't process credit cards. You must undergo a verification process to be granted a license. Only legitimate businesses are licensed to process major credit cards.
Both Visa, MasterCard and American Express are very vigilant about their operations. They will terminate any merchant in case of any discrepancies or customer complaints.
In addition, the consumer is protected against unauthorized transactions by the federal law, that shifts the responsibility to the banks. Today, we have the secure mechanisms to eliminate most risks. Use them!
Millions of online transactions are processed daily. The current security technology allows worry-free online ordering. In fact, several layers of protection work for you. Here are the cold hard facts.
Protection Layer One: Encryption
Your credit card information is encrypted using the 128-bit military grade SSL code. It takes a network of computers and a few months of work to break the code.
In essence, the Secure Socket Layer technology (SSL) makes is impossible to decipher the information even if someone manages to filter out these tiny bits of code in the gigabytes of spam and other useless data that is clogging the internet at any moment.
Protection Layer Two: Address Verification System (AVS)
Protection Layer Three: Zero Liability Policy
How do I know that the server is REALLY secure?
Today, all credit card transactions are processed securely. (In fact, even Gmail and Skype are secure!)
Individual websites like ours are linked to the centralized secure payment systems. We do not see your credit card number when you submit your order. It is encrypted by your computer and goes directly to the processing system via a secure connection.
How secure is SSL encryption?
Consider this: a few years ago it took a French graduate student over a week to crack a message sent with the traditional 40-bit encryption, and he used a network of 112 computers to do it!
Today, the US Defense Department might be able to do it in a matter of minutes, but at 128-bits, it would take the world's most sophisticated hardware and software something more than the age of the universe to decipher the encryption! The 128-bit technology is practically unbreakable.
In fact, some countries want to ban Skype because their governments can't crack its 128-bit encryption (same type of encryption used to process credit cards.)
What do professionals say?
Peter H. Lewis, The New York Times:
―Sending a credit card number to an electronic merchant over the internet is probably the safest way to make such a transaction.
In the last week, for example, I handed my credit card to a waiter who disappeared with it for five minutes. I faxed my credit card details to a business in New Jersey, and the fax probably lay exposed to everyone in that office for hours and perhaps to the cleaning crew that night.
I called a hotel and gave my card data to a reservation clerk and continued my recklessness by ordering some merchandise from a clothing catalog, again by reading my card information to some unseen operator ... compared with the risk of handing my credit card to a stranger, which I do nearly every day, sending it over the Net is pretty secure.
Michael D. Busch, Editor of AVWeb:
―I just completed a 3-year consulting contract with Visa International, so I've been on the inside of the credit card industry and I'm pretty familiar with the issues. In my opinion, the whole issue of credit card security on the Internet has been grossly overblown by the media. To a large extent, I think it's a red herring. I am comfortable with sending my own card details via web forms and Internet mail, and do so regularly.
―I'm not saying this because I believe the Internet can't be penetrated. Obviously it can. Rather, I say it because conventional (non-Internet) credit card transactions are so grossly unprotected that I don't feel that using credit cards over the web exposes one to any additional risk, and it's probably safer than many (perhaps most) conventional methods of credit card usage.