Shopping Safely Online is Important!
Shopping safely online is more important now than ever before. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, online sales have been skyrocketing. More and more of us are opting to get our basic necessities via online shopping.
There are dangers lurking anytime you are required to provide personally identifiable information (PII), such as passwords and payment information online. You need to be cyber smart to reduce the risk of becoming a cyber crime victim.
Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards
When it comes to shopping safely online, one of the best tips I can give you is to use your CREDIT card instead of your debit card. If you have the choice, you should always use your credit card instead of your debit card when making online purchases.
Debit Cards Are Tied to Your Bank Account
We often forget that every time we make a purchase using a debit card, the funds are withdrawn directly from our checking account. When making purchases with a credit card, you’re using the bank’s money. It’s a line of credit, not real money from your checking account.
With a credit card, it’s the bank’s money that’s on the line. Therefore, you’re not going to be held liable for fraud. The bank will need to deal with it. When it comes to credit card fraud, the most you could be liable for is $50 and the majority of banks waive the fee.
Debit cards however, do not offer the same fraud protections as a credit card. With a debit card you should be able to get your money back when and IF you report fraud promptly, but it could take 10 days or more to get it back. While the bank is investigating the fraud, your account is frozen, so you will have no access to the funds in that account. This could be a huge problem, if you need that money to pay your bills, and even more so, if you have bills that are set up for auto-pay.
There are Different Rules for Debit Cards
If an unauthorized transaction appears on your bank statement (but your card or PIN has NOT been stolen) you won’t be liable for the debit if you report it within 60 days after your account statement is sent to you. BUT – if the charge goes unreported for more than 60 days, your money could be lost. When you report the theft, the bank will investigate and decide if you they are required to credit the money back to your account.
Alternatively, the time frame is much shorter if your card or PIN was lost or stolen. You only have 2 business days in order to limit your liability to no more than $50 of unauthorized charges. After those 2 business days have passed, you’re liable for $500 of the amount lost, between 3 and 60 days. After 60 days, you are liable for the entire amount of your losses. You must, therefore, be sure to make a report as soon as you learn that your card is missing or that your PIN has been stolen.
How to Report a Suspicious Debit Charge
If you spot a fraudulent transaction, immediately call the card provider’s toll-free number on the back of the card. Ask them if you need to follow up with written correspondence. You can also read your monthly statement or error resolution notice for how and where to report any suspicious transactions. Lastly, if you get a replacement card, with a new number, remember to update any automatic payments that were linked to the original card.
More Tips for Shopping Safely Online
1.) Even when using a credit card, be careful where you shop online. Scammers have already set up millions of bogus online website shops. Especially since the Coronavirus pandemic began, fraudsters are trying to sell everything from COVID-19 DIY testing kits, to cleaning disinfectants and medical supplies.
2.) Only shop on websites that you know and trust and type the URL of the website yourself, instead of clicking on any links or attachments in emails. Be careful of your spelling too! Scammers often set up websites with incorrectly spelled names of common websites.
3.) When logging on to a website, utilize two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you.
4.) Use long strong, stealth passwords or use a password manager. Always, use a separate stealth password for important sites you log on to. For example, be sure to use a separate password when logging into your online banking account than the one you will use to log on to your Facebook or Amazon account.
5.) Never use your debit card for recurring charges on the internet. Use a prepaid card with a limited amount of money available on it.
6.) Do not use public Wi-Fi at an airport, a hotel, a restaurant, etc. for online purchases. If you have no choice, then be sure to confirm the exact name of the network and login procedures to ensure that the network is legitimate.
7.) Use only websites that begin with “https://” when shopping online. Watch out for website extensions. Most online shopping website addresses end in “.com”
8.) Privacy is important too. Here’s a link to your privacy settings on Google.
You can read a prior article I wrote about shopping safely online here