Tag Archives: Online Shopping

Ten reasons you should stay at home and shop online this Friday.

Well, the day after Thanksgiving is fast approaching, at least here in the states.

Now, I’ve managed to weasel my way out of shopping for anything on this day for the past several years, and this year will be no different. I’m a fan of a low-key sort of Christmas, where the main event is having everybody get together, rather than the emphasis on loot.

However, not everybody shares my flip attitude towards tradition, so I know a lot of you are planning to head out and join the fray. I’d like to encourage you to consider staying at home and shopping online this Friday, though, for the following ten reasons:

  1. Online retailers, especially the major companies, have unbelievable security these days. It is safer than ever to shop online. In fact, it’s probably safer than shopping in person.
  2. When shopping with your credit or debit card, you’re not liable for any fraudulent charges (unless your contract is set up really weird, which might occur but should be very rare).
  3. Shoulder surfers: It’s impossible for someone to sidle up and take a photo of your credit card if you’re not in the store to begin with.
  4. Skimming: you can’t be tricked into sliding your card through a skimming device if you’re not even in the vicinity of an ATM or other card-reading machine.
  5. Theft: it’s also exceedingly difficult for someone to steal (or “find”) your wallet if you’re at home.
  6. Scammers: I know you would never be tempted to buy a TV from some dude in a gas station parking lot at night, but you’ll never even see him if you shop online from established retailers (he might be lurking about on Craigslist, though, I guess).
  7. A lot of Black Friday sales are bait-and-switch schemes. Stores use the frantic nature of the day to unload items that are…almost what you were looking for, but not quite. Online, it’s easy to closely check an item (without some nutjob trying to tear it out of your hands).
  8. Also, a lot of stores will advertise an item at a wildly discounted price, with fine print that states they have a “minimum of four per store.” You realize that means there are only four per store, right? This generally doesn’t happen online.
  9. You’ll save money just by not driving your car around all day, forlornly circling parking lots in search of something, anything, that looks like a space your car might fit into.
  10. You’ll spend less money, because you won’t get caught up in the insane “get yours before somebody else gets it” mentality the stores depend on.

Holiday Fraud Prevention Tips: Well, I’m officially published now.

This is an article I wrote that appeared in the most recent issue of Panorama Magazine here in Northwest Indiana. It’s almost exactly like the Video Dispatch I did on the same topic a couple weeks ago. Actually, I think I made the video the same day I wrote the article. Yes, this means I’ll be referring to myself as a “published writer” now.

Here’s the text, for those of you who would rather read something than watch a video:

Holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and it’s about to get nuts out there. Here are a few tips to keep yourself and your money safe.

Use Your Elbows

Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” With camera phone technology, it’s easier than ever for someone to sidle up to a store counter and take a photo of your credit card. Make sure nobody is standing suspiciously close before you whip out the plastic.

Use Your Head

Never write your PIN on your ATM or debit card, and never carry your Social Security card around with you. Both are bad news if you lose your wallet. Additionally, never let anyone write your Social Security Number on a check. Most stores have wised up, but you might encounter some that haven’t.

I’m Not Saying You Can Only Shop at the Mall, But…

Where to buy plasma TVs and other electronics:

  1. From an electronics store
  2. From a department store
  3. Online

Where not to buy plasma TVs and other electronics:

  1. From some guy in a parking lot at night.

If you go this route, the best thing you can hope for is to end up with an empty, weighted box. At worst, you could get arrested for receiving stolen property. Jail tends to dampen one’s holiday cheer.

Shop Online. Seriously

It’s more secure than ever. In fact, it’s probably safer than shopping at the store. Plus, you won’t have to deal with a mall full of desperate maniacs.

Identity Theft Myths: Online banking and shopping are unsafe

I know, most people already know that shopping and banking online are pretty darn safe. Amazon wouldn’t be the leviathan it is today if people were still afraid to shop online. However, there are still some folks out there who think doing anything online is an open door to getting your identity stolen.

The truth is, it’s probably safer.

Think about your monthly bills. Your paper bill starts by passing through who-knows-how-many hands. Then it sits in your mailbox unattended until you take it (assuming it’s still there). Later, you write out a check (with your full name, address and account number on it), place it in an envelope with your bill (which has yet another account number on it), and leave it unattended in the mailbox with the little red “Hey There’re Checks In This’n!” flag sticking up. Assuming nobody steals it from your box, it once again passes through who-knows-how-many hands on the way to its destination. At the end, a human being (i.e., an entity capable of error) has to manually input your payment and handle your paper check.

If you receive and pay online, however, you receive an email that only you can see. It probably won’t even have your full account number in the message. You go online to pay the bill, logging in with a password only you know. Your payment is taken from your account right away, and it is processed by a machine, which will usually only make an error if you make an error.

Additionally, the security at online retailers and financial institutions is unbelievably tight. The only time anyone really runs into trouble is when they fall for a phishing scam and give their passwords out to other people, or when they use a site that shouldn’t have been trusted to begin with. Your credit union, bank, and the major retailers are fine. If you’re not sure if a business is trustworthy, check them out on the Better Business Bureau.