Shopping online can save you time and money. Here are a few tips to do it safely and smartly. Just in time for the holidays!
Pay with a Credit Card.
It’s best to use credit cards, rather than debit cards, when shopping online. Credit cards are an extension of credit, while debit cards draw directly from your bank account. If hackers get a hold of your banking information, they can do much more damage to your finances than with your credit card number.
The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers in the event of identity theft or fraud if they use a credit card by limiting their fraud liability to $50. Even better, most credit card companies offer additional protection, sometimes limiting consumer liability for fraud to zero. Using a debit card affords you some federal protection if you notify your bank of a fraudulent debit card purchase within two days your liability is limited to $50; after that it raises to $500 [source: Bankrate].
Some credit card companies offer virtual or single-use credit card numbers for online shopping. These generally expire after one purchase and only your credit card company knows which account it’s linked to. Check with your credit card issuer to see if they offer this option.
Another method to limit your liability is to use only one credit card for online shopping thus limiting your liability to that one account should your transactions be compromised.
The Standard Bank Debit MasterCard® features MasterCard® SecureCode™ — an online security service to guard against the unauthorized use of your Standard Bank MasterCard while shopping online at participating merchants. There is no need to get a new card, no software to download, and no hassles… just added security.
Use PayPal™ or Google Wallet.
Minimize Site Security Risk.
Look for indicators that you are on a secure site. There are no guarantees when online, however sites with a green padlock and an “s” are usually safe. The small padlock icon will appear in the URL, or address, bar. Secure sites and pages begin with https:// versus non secure sites that begin with http://.
Update Anti-Virus Software.
Keep your anti-virus software up to date, since you may come across viruses when shopping online.
Use the BBB.
Look up any companies you’re not familiar with on the Better Business Bureau’s site. Not only will you learn if the company is legitimate you’ll also learn their rating.
Research your Shopping List.
Research the items on your list before Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You’ll already know who has the best deals and won’t stress out trying to place your order before a deal expires.
Factor Shipping Costs.
Don’t forget about shipping costs when comparing prices. Many companies have free shipping on all orders, while others might require you to place a minimum order amount to receive the free shipping.
To cut down on shipping fees, order as many items as you can from a single retailer and choose to ship your items together with one shipping fee attached, rather than as they are available.
If you have to pay for shipping, order early enough so you can choose the least expensive shipping option.
Know Return and Exchange Policies.
Many retailers charge restocking fees on returned items. If all else is equal, choose the retailer with no restocking fees and that offers free returns should you need to return an item.
Support your Neighbors
Shop Small on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30th. Patronize retailers owned locally – either online or in person.