Shopping Online: How To Stay Safe Part II - Choose Stores Carefully

shoppingonlinehowtostaysafepartiichoosestorescarefully.jpgBeing well protected isn’t the only way to make sure you are safe when shopping online. You can also significantly enhance your online shopping experience and simultaneously heighten your safety level by being extra careful when choosing stores to shop at. Knowing who you can trust in the online world can be a tall order, so this post is all about showing you how you can quickly and easily choose the best places to shop, even if you’ve never heard of the store before.

Shop At Well Known Online Stores At First

When you are first starting out, it is a good idea to shop at well known stores and chains first. Many large Canadian retailers have an online presence to compliment their bricks and mortar stores so you can be sure that they are as trustworthy online as they are offline. This will allow you to get your feet wet in an extra safe environment until you get more comfortable and can branch out to lesser known stores.

Here are a few of the major Canadians retailers that also sell their products online. I am including Amazon in this list because they are so big and well known that they can obviously be trusted as well.

  • Amazon
  • BestBuy
  • Chapters
  • Futureshop
  • HMV
  • Home Depot
  • London Drugs
  • Sears
  • Staples
  • The Source
  • Toys “R” Us

Research New Stores You Want To Try

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Shopping Online: How To Stay Safe Part I – Use Protection

shoppingonlinehowtostaysafepartiuseprotection.jpgIn the first post of this series, I made it clear that shopping online is generally a safe thing to do. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t scammers out there on the internet and that it isn’t possible for something unexpected to happen to you. In the offline world people are still scammed all the time and whenever you shop at a retail store they could easily steal your credit card number or skim your debit card PIN and clone its magnetic strip. Not to mention if somebody hacks a large corporation’s database of credit card numbers like what happened in 2007 with TJ Max (the owner of Winners).

These things don’t happen often, but they do happen, both online and offline, so it is best to take a few extra precautions to protect yourself wherever possible. Here are some suggestions that are easy to act on and that will increase your safety level substantially when shopping online:

Use A Good Credit Card With Fraud Protection

The pillar of any online transaction is having a good credit card with $0 fraud protection so that you won’t be held liable if the wrong person gets a hold of your credit card information or if the store you are buying from doesn’t deliver. The key here is to monitor your statement monthly and look for any suspicious transactions to make sure that you aren’t being charged for anything you didn’t buy. A quick call to your credit card company should allow them to investigate the charge and refund it back to you if they find that it is fraudulent.

You can also contact them if the online store you made a purchase from doesn’t deliver the product you purchased from them. You should always contact the vendor first to follow up and try to resolve any problems, but if that fails then your credit card company should be able to charge them back for the purchase and refund your money.

If you are the extra cautious type, then you can take additional steps to ensure you will be protected:

  • Reserve a single credit card with a low limit, say $500, for all your online shopping to make sure that no large fraudulent purchases could possibly get through.
  • Purchase prepaid credit cards to use when shopping online.
    • You may need to contact the prepaid card issuer to make sure the card will work for online purchases because your personal billing information won’t be on file with them. Billing information is usually verified during the checkout process and the transaction may fail if it can’t be found on the prepaid credit card.
    • These cards are now available almost everywhere gift cards are sold (gift card malls) as well as at some banks.
  • Use a credit card that allows you to set up additional single use credit card numbers.
    • These are also known as virtual credit card numbers.
    • Doing this prevents the store from ever having your real credit card number because the number you gave them will be deactivated after the purchase is complete.
    • Unfortunately, no credit card issuers in Canada have really caught on to doing this even though it has been available in the USA for years. Hopefully soon!

Use An Online Payment Service

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Shopping Online Is Safe, Easy, And Saves Money

shoppingonlineissafeeasyandsavesmoney.jpgIf you weren’t paying very close attention, it might be easy to mistake my house for a Canada Post package drop off facility due to the number of packages that are constantly arriving at my door! My wife just rolls her eyes at me and asks me “what did you buy this time?” and I must confess that half the time I can’t honestly answer that question until I actually open the package.

The reason for this is that I shop online so much and for everything – big and small, necessity and luxury – that I don’t really know what is due to arrive at the house on any given day. I often even forget that I ordered it until the package arrives. I know it sounds bad, but when you are buying things that cost as little as $2 and that can take 2-3 weeks to be delivered when ordered from faraway places like China, it is hard to keep track of it all!

My Personal Online Shopping Experience

Over the past decade I have made hundreds, maybe even thousands, of purchases online. These purchases were spread across almost every major online retailer that can be found in Canada as well as many more in the United States and around the globe. Of course, I haven’t made purchases from all of the smaller Canadian sites and I have a particular lack of experience with buying clothes online. I typically prefer to shop in a retail store for clothes so I can try things on and appreciate the look and feel of an item before I make my final decision.

Out of those hundreds of transactions, I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I was terribly unsatisfied with the experience. Naturally, there were a few minor bumps here and there, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved quickly and easily by contacting the vendor. Out of those same transactions, I have also never had anyone scam me, steal my credit card number, or not come through on delivering the product or at least a full refund if they ran out of stock or couldn’t deliver for some other reason. The only thing that may have come close to a scam would be a Bluetooth headset I bought off Ebay that was advertised as if it was genuine but I think it may have been a very well disguised knock off. That was years ago now and you do take those risks when buying a product like that on Ebay direct from China.

I believe this extensive experience makes me well qualified to comment on the state of online shopping in Canada and teach you why it is safe, easy to do, and can save you a lot of money!

Shopping Online Will Save You Money!

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$1 Video Games At Walmart Right Now!

Video Game Walhalla Walmart is having a crazy video game clearance right now that started just yesterday; There is a huge list of PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS, and PC video games all being sold for just a single dollar!

You would think that all of these games would be “B” titles or very old games but some of them are actually fairly recent or at least very good games! I don’t play a lot of video games myself other than a few on PC when I have time so it is hard for me to comment on what the best games are, but here is a list of a few games included in the sale that I think are decent:

  • XBox 360
    • Bioshock 2
    • Burnout Paradise
    • F.E.A.R. 2
    • Grand Theft Auto 4 Special Edition
    • Guitar Hero (Metallica & World Tour)
    • NHL 10
    • Nier
    • Prince of Persia
    • Soul Caliber IV
    • Star Ocean
    • Street Fighter 4
    • Tekken 6
  • PS3
    • Burnout Paradise
    • Dead to Rights Retribution
    • Devil May Cry 4
    • Guitar Hero (4 different games)
    • Motorstorm Pacific Rift
    • Nier
    • Quake Wars
    • Star Ocean
    • Tekken 6
    • Wolfenstein

I’m only going to list those few for 360 and PS3 to give you an idea, but there are at least 100 games listed in this forum thread dedicated to the sale over at RFD. Check it out to see all the games on all the different video game systems.

Quantities Are Limited

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