There are many online vendors selling all sorts of things that allow you to pay using your credit card. I want to know if there could realistically be some white-list (or even a blacklist) of such vendors that indicate where it is safe to share your credit-card info online.

I am not asking for a link to such a resource, but rather an indication of whether such resources would make sense to create, maintain and use. Have they ever existed with any reasonable success? Do any currently exist with reasonable success? Naturally, a prominent example is a good indication, but it's not what I'm specifically after.

Clearly such a list cannot be definitive, but it could definitely indicate where a vendor is definitely trusted. I imagine that such a list would mostly be maintained by customers reporting their experience. A history of good practice is clearly not something that a new business would have, so not being on the list does not mean that a vendor isn't trustworthy. But being on the list would make customers much more comfortable. Is such a thing a ridiculous notion and, if so, why?

I wasn't sure whether this was more on-topic here or at computer security, but I went with here as it deals with what the average user can do to be safer, rather than the details of, implementation of, or compromise of security systems. I was also unable to find a duplicate. I hope this is the right spot for it.

Please Note:

  • I'm not looking for "check if it's https" because that deals with ensuring that your information is not captured or tampered with by a third, malicious party, rather than ensuring that the vendor themselves are trustworthy. Installing an SSL certificate takes 15 minutes and costs less than $10 / year.

  • I know that fraud liability is limited or zero for credit cards. But I want to know if it is possible to prevent fraud, rather than deal with it.

  • The vendor needs to collect the card information themselves and then make the charge somehow. Secure, third-party payment gateways are not being asked about for obvious reasons. The same goes for payment schemes were I "send" someone money, rather than them "charging" me, such as EFTs or Paypal. The trust needs to be on the vendor to only charge for the correct amount the correct number of times.

  • The premise here is that a corrupt vendor could somehow get people to their site and then keep charging them. Or charge them too much. Or something. I'm not asking about how sustainable this model of crime is, I'm asking if there is a list of vendors who definitely aren't doing it. It is, of course, possible that the vendor is located somewhere where there is a higher tolerance of these things. They might also be a larger company that simply has a history of incorrect charges (unlikely, but always possible).

  • Google has a whitelist of sorts. It contains sites that are marked as "Google Trusted Stores" – Nosrac Sep 26 '17 at 13:26
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    @Nosrac The Google Trusted Stores program has ended, being replaced with simple customer reviews. I'm pretty sure that even Google found the concept of the whitelist of businesses futile. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Sep 26 '17 at 13:30
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    I would like to mention that, if I can format this to be on-topic, then an answer here would be useful, even if it is a definite "No." Several people that I know have searched for such a thing in the past when buying from an unknown or small online store (which conversation inspired this question). Searching for such a thing and finding an answer here that says it doesn't exist would be time saving and useful, if that is, in fact, the answer. – E404 Sep 26 '17 at 16:05
  • You're basically describing the BBB; an entirely impotent organization on it's best day. – quid Sep 26 '17 at 22:33

I'm going to go with "ridiculous notion." :)

The vast majority of businesses are legitimate, run by honest people trying to earn a living for themselves and their employees. These days, almost all of them accept credit cards. Crooked businesses are a very small minority.

When a bad business over charges you, you dispute the charge, and you get your money back. But that's not all that happens. The bad merchant pays penalties for this, and if it happens more than a couple of times, the merchant loses their merchant account with their bank, which means that they lose their ability to accept credit card payments anymore. A crooked business is not able to rob people via credit card for very long at all.

A whitelist would certainly not be able to include every legitimate business. And a blacklist would never be able to be kept up-to-date, as bad businesses come and go continuously; as soon as a business was added to the blacklist, they would lose their merchant account and would no longer need to be on the list.

What you are describing is very rare. My brother once had a bad experience with a tech support company where they were repeatedly charging him for a service they never performed. But a credit card chargeback took care of it. If that company made a habit of that, I'm sure that they got in trouble with their bank.

Instead, the most common credit card fraud happens when crooks use your credit card at perfectly legitimate businesses. But your whitelist/blacklist wouldn't help you with that at all.

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