Learn what Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode are with our guide to online security
How do you ensure the transactions you make online are safe? What is to stop someone intercepting your online bank transfers and taking your money?
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As long as we’ve been using the internet to send money, whether it be in the form of bank transfers or shopping, the question of internet security has loomed large.
To help combat this the two largest transaction providers have introduced an extra level of protection for the online domain, but how does it work, how can you trust it, and what other protection is there?
Verified by Visa
What is Verified by Visa? The Verified by Visa UK scheme was the first to be introduced for UK consumers, and acts as an added layer of password protection for Visa customers online.
Visa, traditionally the most widespread payment network, covers a huge range of credit and debit cards in the UK. The Visa network is the way payments are processed between financial providers and is separate from your bank or card provider.
To see if you have a Visa card simply look for the Visa logo in the bottom right-hand corner of your card.
Visa has a number of different networks – Visa Credit, Visa Debit, and Visa Electron – but the Verified by Visa UK scheme works for all types as long as your transaction is being processed online.
When you first try to use your card for an online transaction you will be asked to set up your Verified by Visa registration and password. You should make a note of this password or choose something memorable, as you will need it in future.
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MasterCard was traditionally the UK’s second card provider behind Visa, but has gained in prominence in recent years, along with its debit card brand Maestro.
The MasterCard SecureCode site works in an identical manner to the Verified by Visa site, although it looks slightly different and has a different address (see ‘How do you know you’re on the right site’ below).
To see if you have used MasterCard simply look for the MasterCard or Maestro logo in the bottom right-hand corner of your card. If you’re not sure you can always contact your card provider.
How do they work?
Whenever you enter you card details online it will be on a secure website and the information will be encrypted before being sent for processing.
Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode are not fundamentally different to existing electronic payment methods. They are simply an added layer of security using a personal message and password system.
How do you know you’re on the right site?
Both the Verified by Visa scheme and MasterCard SecureCode site have a particular look and style that you can look out for to ensure you’re on the right site.
When both security systems request your password they will also show you a personal message that you set up when you first registered.
If you do not see this personal message do not enter your card details, and call your card provider.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that neither security system will ask you to sign-up via email.
If you receive an email asking you to sign up with Verified by Visa scheme or MasterCard SecureCode and providing a link, delete it immediately and call your Visa or MasterCard provider.
You can also be vigilant when on the Verified by Visa or SecureCode sites, or when receiving emails.
Always check for spelling mistakes or strange looking URLs or email addresses, and be on the lookout for a phone number to call to verify the site or email.
As an extra layer of protection you should also ensure you only use reputable websites. The most basic check is the website you are using in the first place.
Large and reputable online retailers like Amazon, John Lewis, or the major supermarkets are all safe places to shop online, but what if you’re on a site you’ve never heard of before?
If you’re on a new site make sure your internet browser’s security options are enabled – often your browser will be able to tell you if the site you are on is reputable, and if you are on a payment page look out for the padlock symbol in the URL bar.
What other online protection is there?
While Verified by Visa registration and MasterCard SecureCode both offer an added layer of protection for particular bank cards, there are a number of other ways you can ensure your online payments are secure.
Perhaps the most common and well-known secure online payment method is the Paypal site. Paypal, which rose to prominence of the back of the online auction site eBay, is another way of encrypting your payments.
While for a bank transfer or online payment you are simply transferring money from your bank account to another (like the merchant’s site), Paypal acts as an intermediary.
With Paypal all the payments are stored on its own encrypted servers. You pay Paypal and the other party simply accesses the money through Paypal once the payment has been authorised.
Alongside Paypal the payment sections of both websites will be secured encrypted sites. You can tell if you’re on a secure site by looking out for the letters ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL, as opposed to ‘http’.
You should also be able to see a small padlock symbol in your browser’s URL address bar.
The ‘s’ refers to the fact that you’re on a secure site, and is vital to ensuring a higher level of protection. If you are on a payment page and being asked for your card details and you don’t see ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL you should not enter your card details and call the retailer instead.