Safe Shopping Tips
While debit cards are a popular form of payment, they may not be the best choice.
Credit cards have become one of, if not the safest way to pay for purchases. Using a credit card is safer than a debit card because it is not directly linked to a checking account and you can often dispute charges if something is wrong.
Here are a few situations you may encounter while holiday shopping where you may be better suited to use a credit card:
- Online: Since the debit card links directly to a checking account, don't use a debit card online or for phone orders-- you are potentially vulnerable.
- Big-Ticket Items: With a big-ticket item, a credit card is safer. A credit card offers dispute rights if something goes wrong with the merchandise or the purchase. With a debit card, you have fewer protections. In addition, some credit cards will also offer extended warranties. And in some situations, such as buying electronics or renting a car, some credit cards also offer additional property insurance to cover the item.
- If You're a New Customer: Online or in the real world, if you're a first-time customer in a store, skip the debit card the first time you buy. That way, you get a feel for how the busienss is run, how you're treated and the quality of the merchandise before you hand over a card that links to your checking account.
- Buy Now, Take Delivery Later: Buying now but taking delivery days or weeks from now? A credit card offers dispute rights that a debit card typically does not. But be aware that some cards will limit the protection to a specific time period. So settle any problems as soon as possible.
Here are some tips to help make your holiday shopping season safe and joyous:
- Shop during the day when possible. If you have to shop at night, bring along a friend and park in well-lighted areas.
- Avoid parking next to vans, trailers, and other vehicles with tinted windows.
- Never leave valuable items in your car where they are visible to thieves.
- If you carry a purse or backpack, guard it carefully. Never leave it on the roof of your car while you’re attempting to open or lock your car.
- Be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to get distracted by the bright lights and shopping specials, but it’s important to be vigilant about any hidden dangers.
- Locate your keys before you get to your car.
- Try not to carry large sums of cash on you.
- Be suspicious of any strangers that may approach you, particularly in parking garages and parking lots.
- Keep a record of all your credit card numbers at home in case your cards get lost or stolen.
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, proceed with caution.
For more fraud protection or security tips, click here.