It’s the holiday season and is the season to be shopping the new-age way - the online way. And it’s going to be a smorgasbord of options out there. It will almost look like an endless buffet of things to shop for. Online shopping sites are plenty. Some cater directly to the Philippine market while others cater to the entire blue planet.
Whatever your choice of shopping site will be, the mode of payment you'll be using will almost be the same - credit or debit. In this week's "episode", I've come up with a short list of how to best protect yourself from shopping nightmares that can include a bill that reaches out to the moon.
First off, I recommend using a debit card or an intermediary to your credit card if you don't have a debit card. Debit cards work pretty much the same way as credit cards. The main difference is that debit cards are good as cash. Once you pay for anything with it, it's paid. That's the reason why I can't recommend it enough for anybody who's regularly shopping online.
Your online purchases won't be approved if you don't have sufficient funds in your debit card. It's another reason why I recommend it. There's no danger of going over-budget or, God forbid, unscrupulous purchases made by someone from a country with a name that's hard to pronounce. If they want to use your debit card, they'll have to put in the funds themselves. And that kind of defeats the purpose of trying to "steal" from you.
Where to get a debit card, you ask? Visit your bank and ask if your bank offers such a product. If they do, apply for one right away. Most banks these days though also enable the ATM card they issue as a debit card. That's one way of going about it if you're looking for convenience. I will not recommend doing that though even if it means a ton of convenience for you. Directly using your ATM account leaves the door open. If your bank details are stolen or phished from you, that's it. You can say goodbye to all the money in your account. A separate account for debit card purposes will still a more secure way.
Another way is to sign up for an online payment service. Two of the more popular ones that are easily accessible here in the Philippines are PayPal and PayMaya. There are pros and cons to each service and I'll leave it up to you to research further on that. In the end, both are reliable and safe. And both are accepted even for international purchases in other currencies. As long as you have the needed funds in the account to cover the exchange rate at the time of your purchase, you're good to go.
Second, is that you make sure you're shopping on the correct website. And once you're in the shopping site of choice, make sure that your connection to the website is secure and private. One way to make sure of that is that you should see a padlock icon in the locked position just the left of the address of the website on your browser's address bar. If you see that padlock icon in the unlock position, stop whatever it is you're doing in and get out of the website. It's possible that you're not really on the official website and you're being tricked into giving away your financial information.
All of the three common shopping websites - Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon - all use secure connections to your browser which means that if you wanted to check Lazada and then you see that padlock icon, unlocked and your browser starts warning you about an insecure connection, tread lightly and best to just leave.
Keep in mind always - unlocked padlock, very bad.
Lastly, exercise a good dose of prudence when shopping online. If you can keep your shopping to just one site, I say that's better because you're not giving out your info to multiple websites which can potentially be a security risk to you. If you really need to be on multiple shopping sites, just make sure that it's a legitimate website and your connection to it is secure and private.
After all that's said and done, enjoy your shopping and may you be able to check out your long shopping list and make every pamangkin happy this holiday season.