How to Shop Online Safely and Without Regret
Online shopping is steadily becoming the preferred way to shop. The fact of the matter is we can buy just about anything online. This, without having to change out of our pajamas and leaving home, ultimately saving time, effort, and transportation costs. This godsend convenience, however, is not without its risks. Although online shopping is a relatively safe exercise, it is still not completely without multiple risks. For one thing, not all online retailers and sellers are created equal with some who are downright spurious. Credit card fraud is also a huge risk, while identity theft is another. It is, therefore, a good idea to not be too complacent and definitely pay attention to safety while shopping online. Here are some sound approaches that you can take.
Use credit cards instead of debit cards.
Although it may seem like you are merely increasing your credit card debt if you use it to shop online, this is actually a negligible concern, as long as you stay on top of your credit card payables. In the issue of safety, using a credit card instead of your debit card when shopping, even online, is still the preferred way to go. This is because of several reasons.
First of all, most credit cards have built-in protection for identity theft, while debit cards generally don’t. In fact, most credit cards impose a cap on your liability for charges that are fraudulent—that is, as long as the fraud is reported to the company within a specified time period (typically 30 or 60 days). For example, your credit card has a cap of $50, and you reported a spurious charge of $500. If proven that it is, indeed, a fraudulent charge, you are only liable for $50, while the rest are undertaken by the company.
Secondly, your debit card is, more often than not, attached to your checking or savings account. So if you use your debit card to shop online, but someone manages to gain access to out, your entire account could be put in jeopardy. While it’s likely that you will get your money back from the bank at some point, it will usually take a while. Not only that, you will need to jump through a number of hoops. And, of course, it is also possible (though uncommon) that you won’t get anything back at all. So why go through that potentially time-wasting and incredibly aggravating situation when you can avoid it entirely by using a secured credit card?
If you’re really serious about avoiding credit card fraud, consider a disposable credit card. This is a rather new offering that most banks and credit card companies are providing for people who are interested in shopping online.
Basically, the disposable credit card works like a gift card. You can specify a specific limit to the card, and once it’s used up, you can either cancel it or top it up. The great thing about it is since it’s prepaid, it’s not at all connected to your accounts, so criminals are limited to whatever credit is currently available on the card.
Be mindful of website security.
Online shopping is not just about finding products at the best deal possible. It is also being aware that you are purchasing them from a reputable source—that is to say, a website that is secured and legitimate.
It’s good practice to stick to secure sites. Unsecured sites are easy enough prey for savvy criminals, which can steal your information. The best way to tell if a site is secure is if it starts with HTTPS instead of just HTTP. A small yellow lock icon at the bottom right corner of the screen is also a sure indication of a secure site.
Shop in private.
The point of shopping online is being able to shop in the comforts of your own home and personal space, so stick to that. Avoid shopping while using public Wi-Fi, such as in coffee shops or libraries. This is because you have no idea who might be lurking in these public networks, just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting users to steal their information.
Indeed, do not let the benefits of shopping online lull you into a false sense of security. You may snag a great deal, but your carelessness and complacency could cost you so much more than the few dollars that you saved.
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