As a single parent, might not have the time to go spend hours in a mall shopping. The great thing about online shopping for single parents is that you can sit at home with your laptop, browse through online sites, read up on products, shop to your heart’s content, and with a click on the keyboard have your items delivered right to your door. The bad news is that with the ease of a credit card, you can easily go overboard and spend more than you should or have in the bank. Manufacturers of credit cards surely knew what they were doing when they invented it.
The big negative is that there are risks that come with online shopping for single parents. Although identity theft is more common in the real world, it is much scarier to punch your ID number and credit card number on a keyboard and leave this information floating around in the virtual world. Be that as it may, however, we all have three or more cards. If the one is maxed out, we go to the other one. When we run out of money completely, we threaten to cut up our cards and save, and spend, and start the cycle all over again. Some of us never get our heads above water. Below are a few steps for safe shopping online for single parents.
Choosing the right card for what you need
- There are those who choose to use their credit card over their debit card as with a credit card you have protection from identity theft and your liability for fraudulent charges caps at $50 as long as you report the fraud within thirty or sixty days, and depending on the company. But what if there’s a lot of money in your debit card and someone has access to it and cleans it out? The argument goes both ways. Whether you leave your personal information on a site for online shopping for single parents, or stick a card into the ATM machine, you have the same risk. What you decide to do is up to you. The bottom line is that with a debit card you can only spend what you have and if you’re one of those people who easily lose control with a credit card, the debit card will be safer for you. You won’t get anyone sending you nasty letters to pay.
- Are disposable money cards better? One would think so. Disposable cards work very much like gift cards. You buy one for a particular amount and it’s good until the money’s used up. It is great for gifts and both Visa and American Express have them in various amounts. Best of all, if the number of the disposable card is stolen, it is anonymous and criminals can’t gain access to anything more than the dollar amount left on the card. It therefore makes sense if you are gearing up to make a big purchase that you buy a disposable card for the item rather than carry around and use your credit card.
There is no getting away from the fact that we can’t survive without credit or debit cards, but there are ways we can protect ourselves by practicing damage control. Simple precautions to take when shopping online are as follows:
- Limit yourself to secure sites. There are different levels of security online and some sites don’t even have secure shopping. That still leaves you vulnerable as a savvy criminal can steal your credit information from a Visa slip or other form and gain access to your card. Always check if the site is secure.
- Don’t do your online shopping in a public place like a library, bookshop, or internet café. You don’t know who will use it after you, and how clever the person is on the computer retrieving other people’s information. Don’t look for trouble. If you are not happy with the lack of a secure site and you want the product, go into a public shop and buy the product and pay with cash.
- Don’t store your personal information on a site even if it is secure and even if you are asked for it and there are no ulterior motives except to effect payment online for something you have bought. Rather don’t use the site. If the company you’re shopping with has a data breach, your personal information is at risk Instead of storing your information on the server, just enter it yourself each time you shop. Better yet, use PayPal. It’s a convenient and safe way to shop.
- Keep records so that you have something to refer to. Most online stores will email you confirmation of your order. Print these out and save them.
- Check the policies of the online store. Is there mention made of the online store’s policies, web site security, refund and return policies? If there are “about pages” or “FAQ pages”, check them out. If there is no mention of security, you know they don’t have it.
- Check your credit card and bank statements and look for errors and purchases you did not make. If there are errors, call your bank or credit card company immediately.
- Never give your credit card and pin number to a friend. No matter how good the friendship is, this can end in heartache, a broken relationship, and a maxed out card. Your friend might be very responsible, but you don’t want to take a chance.
- Watch what you download and never download files, run programs, or view graphics sent to you by strangers. Be aware particularly of clicking on URL links sent to you in an email by people you do not know.
- Last, and very important, unless you know the people asking for your personal information, never give anyone your address, telephone number, social security number, email address and passwords.
According to Bank of America, there now is a Shopsafe card available only on Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard accounts for customers who use their online banking service. It is not currently available on Bank of America American Express accounts. This is a safe online shopping for single parents service which adds an extra layer of protection when you shop online. Shopsafe is a free credit card fraud protection service that allows you to create a temporary card number each time you make an online purchase. This number links directly to your real credit card account number but keeps your card number completely private and protected. The ShopSafe number is used like any other credit card and the merchant never knows it’s not your real credit card.
Top reasons why online shopping for single parents is best
- More and more people today prefer online shopping to conventional shopping even though there is the potential danger of identity theft when paying online. Shoppers have become lazy with the advent of the internet and online shopping, and the number one reason for shopping online for single parents is convenience. The shop never closes on the internet. You can wake up at midnight in your bed, and go online. You can take your time browsing. You don’t have to dress to go to the shop. Nothing can be more convenient for single mothers who are already juggling a job, children and the household.
- Online shopping for single parents ensures that you get better prices as many products come to you directly from the manufacturer without middlemen involved. Many online shops also offer discount coupons and rebates. Best of all, the online store is only required to collect sales tax if they have a physical location in their state.
- Buying online you also have more variety to choose from. You can get several brands and products from different sellers in one place. You can get in on the latest international trends without having to take a plane. You can buy from retailers in other parts of the country. You also have the option of taking your business to another online store if they don’t have what you need. The Yellow Pages used to be the thing to go to when we needed information and address and product benefits. Today it is the internet.
- You don’t have to leave the house to send your child a gift in another part of the world. Sending gifts online to relatives and friends is easy. With all the services at our disposal today there is no reason why birthday, anniversary, and other cards can’t arrive at their destination on time.
- There are fewer expenses doing your online shopping for single parents. You save on shoe leather and don’t have to spend unnecessary money keeping your children entertained while you shop.
- Comparable prices is a major benefit. You can check and compare the same brand product in a few shops and choose the one that is the least expensive if it is of the same brand.
- There are no crowds to contend with. You don’t even have to wash your face to be able to shop. Festivals and special events in the street give you a headache, and too many people in the shop somehow hurry you up and this lessens the shopping experience. You also don’t have to take a cab or drive to the shop. There are no bags to carry. Everything is delivered to your door.
- There is no one to goad you into buying if you are a compulsive shopper. With the click of a button you can leave the shop.
- You can go on eBay and many other sites to buy old or unused furniture and other items at a really good price. For antiques there are no better places than online stores and garage sales in the better areas.
- Last, are discreet purchases. Have you ever been in a lingerie shop and caught someone watching you examine under garments? You can make these purchases online without being embarrassed.
Credit card shopping more prevalent as the economy improves
ComScore released its latest Online Credit Card Report in April 2011which provided a comprehensive look at the US online credit card industry over the past year. The report focused on shifts in the industry regarding improving consumer perceptions of the economic environment, card features most likely to influence card shopping decisions, and the growing importance of online servicing for issuers. The findings revealed a greater percentage of card shopping activity among consumers with a more positive view of the economy.
Competitive features and rewards are important as 20 percent of all cardholders reported shopping for a new card. Those who felt more optimistic about the economy, stood at a high 34 percent. It is expected that with the increase in 2011, consumers are likely to place even greater emphasis on card features as well as enticing rewards programs. Consumers considered the most important features to be low interest rates, no annual fees, and rewards programs.
People who benefit most from online credit cards are:
- those who know how to shop responsibly,
- those who do not use their credit cards for everything and pay cash where they can,
- single mothers who struggle from month to month and use their credit card only for important and emergency items,
- those who do online shopping for groceries at one time with their card, and pay the money back into the card even before the bill arrives,
- those who don’t like to carry more than a hundred dollars on their person as they have a credit card which they use only when they absolutely need it.
If you’re a shop-a-holic or need help with your spending, consult a professional who can help you. It may be that you have a shopping addiction, which can be treated. If you have already landed yourself in trouble by wicked over-spending and found yourself broke, you have a problem and should not be in possession of a credit card. On the one hand a credit card is a lifesaver, especially for those single mothers who have children at home and can’t get out and needs to order supplies online, but on the other hand it can also be a curse. Online shopping for single parents with your credit card is great if you can afford it.