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Making Purchases Over the Internet Safely

Transactions Over the Net

Are you one of the many people who is uncomfortable making purchases over the Internet because you do not want to give your credit card information out over the Net? Even though there may be merchandise you would like to have, do you pass it by because you do not feel it is safe to make a purchase over the Internet?

Here are some easy ways you can make those purchases safely without worrying that something bad will happen to your credit card, or bank accounts. I have been making purchases over the Internet with these methods for at least 13 years with no problems so far.

If you think about it, people inclined to be dishonest can defraud you in person too. That is the reason you need to understand your credit card company’s policies on how to handle a situation where a charge shows up on your credit card invoice that you know you did not make.

Along with a couple of alternative ways to pay for purchases over the Internet, this hub will explain the built in fraud protection that most credit cards already have.


Use a Gift Card

Purchase a Gift Card. I recommend a Visa Gift Card. That can be used just like a credit card anywhere Visa is accepted for the amount you place on the card. If you live in a place where MasterCard is more prevalent than Visa, then get a MasterCard Gift Card.

Place enough money on the Gift Card so that you can make your Internet purchase without worrying that you did not put enough money on the card to cover all expenses. Figure the cost of the items you want to purchase, the tax and shipping for the item or items, and then add another 5 or 10 dollars to that. Round that amount up to the nearest dollar and place that amount on the Gift Card. Use the Gift Card like a credit card to make your Internet purchase.

No one can get more than the amount you placed on the Gift Card off the gift card, even if someone tries to defraud you. By using a Gift Card, you prevent having to give access to any credit card you have, and more importantly you do not have to give access to your bank account through your debit card.

Once you have used the Gift Card, put it in a safe place until you want to make another purchase over the Internet, or make some other kind of payment. You can always add more money to the Gift Card as necessary in order to make more purchases or payments over the Internet, or the phone. Using a Gift Card for this purpose limits access to the amount of money you have placed on the Gift Card and you won’t have to give out your debit card number.

Gift cards are available in most discount stores and many large grocery stores.

Open a PayPal Account

Open a PayPal Account. Most Internet businesses now accept PayPal. PayPal is an Internet bank owned by eBay and it has been around for several years. I have had a PayPal account for 10 years.

You have to fill out an application and register with PayPal in order to open an account. PayPal will need the routing numbers from your local bank so that you can make transfers from your bank to your PayPal account and vice versa. The routing number can be found on your personal checks.

Once you have established your PayPal account, which does not take long, you can use that account to make Internet purchases. You will not have to give personal information in order to make a purchase over the Net. You will not have to give out your bank account information to anyone other than PayPal, and they will safeguard it. All you will need to do in future when you want to make an Internet purchase is choose a website that accepts PayPal (most of them do now), and the necessary form to make your purchase will be provided on that website.

Like the Gift Card, you can limit access to your personal information and your money by using PayPal. The only money that will be in your PayPal account is whatever amount you choose to put there, just like with the Gift Card.

PayPal, however, does not permit the purchase of adult materials such as pornography or sex related items. If they discover you have used their payment service for that purpose, they will close your account and fine you a large fee. If you plan to purchase these kinds of merchandise, I recommend the Gift Cards described above.

There are other payment services similar to PayPal available, but PayPal is the most well known, and it is the one I have used for 10 years, so far with no problems.

Use Your Credit Card – It Has Built In Protection

Use your Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Card with confidence. There is built in protection when you use one of those cards to make a purchase anywhere at all. Whether it is over the Internet, over the phone, through the mail, or in person, your credit card has built in fraud protection.

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You have 30 days in most cases, to notify your credit card provider if you see any charges on your invoice that you believe are fraudulent. There is an 800 number on the back of your credit card that you can call in you need assistance.

You do not have to wait until your invoice arrives to check your account in order to know if anyone has used your card fraudulently. You can access your credit card account online and know almost immediately if there is anything awry with your account. If there is, call their customer service line immediately and get directions about what to do next.

For some reason people seem to think their credit cards can only be abused over the Internet, but in fact they can be abused over the phone and in person just as easily. That is why you should always check your credit card accounts online regularly.

Generally all you need to do if someone has placed a charge on your credit card that you did not authorize is write a letter stating which item listed on your invoice is questionable and why you are questioning it. No need to write a novel. Just state the facts. For example, you purchased an item at Jerry’s Midnight Auto Salvage and you are now being charged for that item plus another item you did not purchase and do not possess. You want the charge for the item you did not in fact purchase removed from your invoice and your invoice adjusted accordingly.

State the date of the transaction and put your credit card number near your name and address for efficient identification purposes.

Your credit card company will remove that charge from your invoice while they investigate the issues you have informed them of. Once their investigation is complete you will either see the charge reappear on your invoice, or it will be removed from your invoice permanently. You will receive a letter from your credit card company informing you of their findings.

I have had to challenge charges on my credit card invoice 3 different times over the last many years and in every case the charges were permanently removed from my credit card invoice.

Credit cards are the safest way to make purchases because if for any reason the product or service is not as promised or expected, or if the charge is fraudulent, your credit card company will investigate the issue and refuse to pay the charge until they get the results of their investigation . Sort of like stopping a check at the bank, but with no fee involved – for now.

Always report any unauthorized charges or any lost credit cards immediately and at the very worst your responsibility will be limited to $50. Often the charge will simply be removed.

© 2012 C E Clark


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 19, 2015:

Audrey (Brakel2), thank you for reading and sharing your experience and thoughts on this subject. Yes, I too know lots of distrusting people when it comes to Internet banking, etc. Whenever there's a huge hacking of personal information on the news it reinforces people's fears all over again. Of course some people don't have bank accounts and so they need to find another way to make Internet purchases. Blessings to you also . .

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 18, 2015:

Peggy W, thank you for coming by and sharing this article! Yes, Bobby is always a wag, isn't he? I bet the azalea trail is gorgeous! Yes, spring seems to have sprung here in North Texas, and I wish it could remain as it is indefinitely, but I know the awful heat is on it's way . . .

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 17, 2015:

Thank you for reading and commenting Tillsontitan, also for the votes. I wrote this because I actually know several people who are paranoid about the Internet and don't want to give their credit card number out to anyone online or over the phone. They imagine terrible things will happen if they do.

Of course terrible things often happen when you simply hand your card over at a restaurant or store, but no one seems fearful of that happening, yet it's basically the same thing. Unauthorized charges that must be reported, etc.

Also, some people don't have credit cards or bank accounts and that makes it harder to purchase online. A gift card will solve it.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 16, 2015:

Mary615, thank you for reading and commenting on this article. Some people are even too paranoid to open Pay Pal accounts, believe it or not. I've had one for at least 13 years now. A gift card can be used to pay bills online too, and they're great for those people who worry a lot. In fact there are a lot of accounts that get hacked and so it's not as if people have no basis for their concern.

However, ordinary credit cards have a lot of protections built in, and really, they're probably the best protection against theft if one keeps their eye on their statement and immediately reports anything that looks odd. Thanks again for your input!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 15, 2015:

Pstraubie48, thank you for reading, commenting, voting on and sharing this article! And as always, I much appreciate the angels. Yes, one must watch for fees on Visa or MasterCard gift cards.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 12, 2015:

I have used credit cards for years on the Internet with few problems. My bank is also very good about debit cards, and that is what I normally use. I know many folks who don't trust anything like online banking, Internet buying. Thanks au fait, for sharing this information. It may help to make people more trusting. Pinning. Blessings, Audrey

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 12, 2015:

I saw this in the feed on the front page and thought that it was worth sharing again. It would seem that "bob-good-bloke" is having some fun with this and your "patrician's toes" and nose. Ha!

Hopefully the warmer temperatures are here to stay in Texas now. The azalea trail was here last weekend in Houston. It was a cool weekend compared to ones in the past.

Mary Craig from New York on March 12, 2015:

As always Aufait, and interesting and useful hub, I'm just surprised it took me so long to find it!

Your advice is spot on. I once had a charge on my card that I didn't recognize. I called the bank and they removed it, just like that. It seems one of the sites I ordered from was known for adding extra charges. You never know, so its always good to have people like you remind us.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 12, 2015:

I would never have thought of using a gift card to pay for an online purchase! I use PayPal for almost everything I buy on line.

Very informative Hub with some good advice. Voted UP, etc. and shared.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 12, 2015:

This is so wise, AuFait. I know of so many who have had cards compromised and had to get new cards due to breaches and fraudulent card use.

Using the Visa that you can purchase works well..some do have a fee when you first use them so it is wise to check that before purchasing those.

Thanks for sharing. This is timely information any time of the year.

Angels are once again on the way to you ps

Voted up++++ and shared

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 24, 2013:

Well, as previously stated, I only accept unfettered contributions. Seems to me you've seen both my nose and my toes and neither is patrician.

Besides, I don't know if the photo you display here is recent, or even you! Neither do I know your true age -- or care what it is. People tend to lie online, and where is the proof that you are as you say? Why the obsession with superficial things? Neither age nor looks seem to have much effect on the qualities that really matter in a person.

One thing I do know for sure. People who are obsessed with age and looks are shortsighted because those things are changing constantly no matter what one tries to do to stop them. Better to be attracted to more lasting attributes like intelligence, character, and personality.

Have a happy Christmas, Bobby! xox

diogenes from UK and Mexico on December 23, 2013:

Well, I would have done so with pleasure. But now I would have to insist on some transaction with those patrician's toes (nose too?) in return for my donation.

And the answer to two questions I have mentioned previously so I have a less fuzzy image to correspond with.

Mama didn bring up no fool


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 23, 2013:

Bobby (Diogenes), thank you for stopping by. You are welcome to make a deposit to my PayPal account anytime. So long as there are no strings attached, I accept contributions from anyone at all, not choosy. (Learned a lot being married to a lawyer for so long. ;) )

Otherwise, been there, done that. The problem seems to be in finding a 'good bloke.' xx

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 22, 2013:

Thank you Deborah-Diane for reminding people to be watchful with their bank cards of all kinds. Merry Christmas!

diogenes from UK and Mexico on December 18, 2013:

Might be best to cut all those cards up and get a good bloke to look after ya!

bob-good-bloke ox

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on December 18, 2013:

Since today is free shipping day for many internet merchants, I thought it would be a good time to remind people that they still need to be cautious when making internet purchases.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 30, 2013:

Thank you moonlake for reading, sharing your own experience with Internet purchases, and for voting on and sharing this article! You might be surprised at what is considered 'adult' material.

moonlake from America on November 26, 2013:

I use a debit card with Paypal. I like it that I can limit access to my money set the amount that can be taken from my account. I never knew they would not accept adult materials, not that I would ever order any so how would I know. Great hub full of information. voted up and shared with followers.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 22, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for pinning this hub!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 19, 2013:

I am also going to pin this to my useful tips and ideas board. Thanks again for writing this.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 13, 2013:

Thank you Deborah-Diane for reading, commenting, voting on, and pinning this hub!

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on June 08, 2013:

This is great information. I have never had problems purchasing things over the internet because I tend to stick with reliable companies, like Amazon. All of your suggestions are excellent for people who are nervous about it, though. I voted this UP, and will Pin it one of to my Pinterest boards on money.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 15, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for reading, commenting, voting on, and especially for sharing this hub! When I worked as a collector I learned about the value of using gift cards to make payments, and to buy things. It's a great way to limit what people can charge to your card and not have to share a lot of personal information.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 12, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

Very good advice! I should use PayPal more often for purchases and the idea of using gift cards is brilliant. Thanks for that! I usually think of gift cards as being just to someone else. You have shown us how to use them for our own purposes and in a safe manor while protecting our bank accounts at the same time. UUI votes and will share.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 02, 2012:

Thank you Margarita, for reading and commenting. That does take a lot of gall to pay something so expensive with a stolen credit card number! Most people who have to pay tuition at Harvard have the money to pay it.

People like my former husband (poor) usually receive grants to cover all of their tuition and more. Many universities help needy students, but the ivy leagues especially, will make it possible for you to attend if you qualify to get in in the first place. At least that's how it was when my former husband went.

MargaritaEden from Oregon on June 29, 2012:

Very useful information, very practical, just recently someone paid tuition at Harvard University with my mom's credit card, people do just crazy things sometimes :)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 20, 2012:

Thank you R2-D2-2, for your addition to the discussion. I, also, know lots of people who have never made purchases over the Net and who do not have bank accounts. Hopefully some people will read this and perhaps set aside their distrust of banks and the Net and try something new. They're missing out on so much convenience.

R2-D2-2 from USA on April 16, 2012:

This sounds good for people who are afraid to buy things over the Internet. I know some people like that. Know some people who don't even have bank accounts, and I guess they could use those gift cards you mention here for making payments over the phone. That thing about Pay Pal was interesting, too.

Don't think I know anyone who has bought things over the Internet before so it's interesting that you have been doing that for a long time. I always just gone in a store when I needed something.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 07, 2012:

Thank you for your comment Shyron. I've made purchases over the Net for more than 10 years. So far, so good. Just another form of mail order.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 07, 2012:

Thank you for your comments Bob. PayPal lets it be known pretty clearly that they will not tolerate buyers or sellers of 'adult' products and will close the account of people who use their PayPal accounts for such AND fine them $500!

Debit cards are not so safe here in the states. Whenever I've had a problem my bank has informed me that it's up to me to resolve any issues with the business I used my debit card to pay. A debit card here is similar to cash. You're on your own. Best to use a credit card because the credit card company will investigate and remove the charges from your account while so doing. Especially best to use a credit card if you place an order by phone. Pay Pal offers guarantees to buyers also. Banks will let you stop a check for a fee, but beyond that, do not seem very helpful.

Recommend you read my recommendations on credit cards again and carefully. Credit card companies can save a person a lot of money and heartache, depending on the amount of money that's involved.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 06, 2012:

I have not purchased anything on the internet, don't know that I ever will.

diogenes from UK and Mexico on April 06, 2012:

Good advice which I have more or less followed for years, too. I use paypal and Ebay for 99% of purchases (and sales) I have made. I don't even trust Amazon as they don't always control the millions of sellers under their blanket.

Safest overall is to use a debit card with paypal and for phone can then get your bank online right away to check.

Best is to go to the store, probably, but then you miss out on the convenience and discounts from shopping online.

PS How did you find out your couldn't get sex devices, etc., through paypal?

Tee hee.


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