“I got scammed” is how the conversation started. A friend, who did not want to be identified for obvious reasons, left his holiday shopping to the very last minute. When he discovered a website that offered him a one-stop-shop for all his holiday gifting requirements, he jumped at the opportunity. He found incredible prices for high-end goods and shipping was free too. He added items to his basket and hit the Checkout button entering his credit card details. He soon received an email saying to expect a call to confirm his purchases. That call never came. The only call he received was from his bank informing him that his credit card was used for a $3420 transaction. Reality dawned as he realised he was scammed. He is now fighting with the bank to get his money back.
This story is unfortunately very common during this time of year as last minute shopping frenzy kicks into high gear just before Christmas.
During this time of year, besides Santa’s helpers, there is another group that is hard at work: the scammers. These people are always active during the holiday season as they deploy various methods to get unsuspecting people to part with their credit card and personal information. This information is collected and sold.
How can you protect yourself when shopping online ?
A simple and effective solution for shopping securely is PayPal.
PayPal has been around since 1998 where they created a solution to take the hassle (and nerves) out of the online shopping world by assigning its users with a digital wallet. When signing up to PayPal, a process that takes a couple of minutes, the credit card is linked to the Digital Wallet. This happens once. PayPal uses a clever system to establish a link between the Digital Wallet and Credit Card. PayPal charges the credit card with $1.95. Next to this amount is a unique 4 digit-code. This code is entered into the PayPal system and is refunded to into the digital wallet. The system is so reliable that over 157 million digital PayPal wallets are in existence today and there is also a great PayPal app to literally take your wallet with you wherever you go.
The real power of PayPal resides in the fact that no financial information is ever shared with the website owners. Whenever a website says they accept PayPal, simply select Pay with PayPal at the checkout and you will be directed to the PayPal page where you enter your username and password. The details of the transactions will be displayed but absolutely no credit card details are shown. Upon confirmation of the transaction, money is either deduced form your PayPal Wallet or charged to your credit card by PayPal and not by the seller.
The same method can be used by businesses and individuals who want to receive money from a purchaser. All they need to do is instruct the buyer to make a PayPal payment to their PayPal wallet. The only information the seller needs to hand over is their PayPal email address.
Simple, convenient and safe.
PayPal has also created a Buyer’s Protection facility. As the sites explains: “You bought a book and got a DVD, you bought a new item but got something that was used, you bought 3 items but only got 2, the item was damaged during delivery, the item is missing major parts (that the seller didn’t disclose), or you purchased an authentic brand but got a fake instead.” In these cases PayPal will : “If an item doesn’t arrive or doesn’t match the description, and your payment is eligible, we’ll reimburse the full cost of eligible purchases paid, including shipping costs.”
PayPal is international.
PayPal operates in 203 countries and markets, allowing customers to get paid in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds to their bank accounts in 57 currencies and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in 26 currencies. So if you see an item on any website that is linked to PayPal, then geographic location and currency is not a problem as the South African PayPal account can be used to make those purchases.
Still not sure about PayPal ? check this out from The Ellen Show:
No delivery to South Africa ?
Some of the big international websites will not deliver to South Africa as it is deemed a “high risk” country. PayPal has partnered with USaddress.com to make online shopping in the holiday season even easier.
This service allows customers to shop at any US online retailer and to provide a local mail address that can be used if a US merchant does not ship to South Africa. Customers registering on the USaddress.com website are given a personal US home address that can be used on all American shopping websites, making millions of products available to them. After making a purchase, packages will be delivered to the USaddress.com logistics centre. Customers are notified of the arrival of their packages, select their preferred method of shipping and pay online. The delivery is then dispatched to their doorstep anywhere in the world, including in South Africa and most sub-Saharan Africa countries.
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