Dramatic title I know but it's been a dramatic week! There's a lot of news and blogger drama surrounding the 'allegedly' dodgy activities of controversial cosmetics brand Lime Crime and it's insta-famous founder, Doe Deere.
There's ethical questions, false advertising allegations but most importantly, instances of card data theft and identity fraud.
Now, I love me a bit of blogger drama on Twitter but financial drama is a compleetely different ball game and thus inspires today's Money Monday blog post.
Yup folks, today the resident accountant in me is talking about how best to protect yourself from data fraud and the best way to use your money online. And no, don't worry, it's not all "don't click on that link which says You've Won A Million Pounds here" and standard tips like "cover your pin" - we're MILLENIALS mother, we know all about that shiz. Carry on reading and get educated, the Face Value way!
LESSON ONE: Consider Your Ways To Pay
Debit and credit cards might be the same to you but in the online world, the credit card reigns supreme.
MoneyMonday 101 - debit cards are linked directly to your bank account and credit cards are borrowed money which you should pay back every month, via your bank balance.
Why is a credit card better online?
Whilst a debit card comes directly out of your balance, a credit card is limited to a certain amount - your credit limit- so if someone gets hold of your details they can only run rampant with it until they hit your limit.
If your DEBIT card is stolen and you're lucky enough to hold some serious monies in your bank account, then the WHOLE lot of it is up for grabs if your card gets stolen. Game over.
And when I say stolen - it doesn't even need to be physically stolen these days. The downside of the super-fast digital age we live in means that people can use credit card details without even having your card present.
Credit Cards also protect you against fraudulent activity - I'm talking the kind of fraudulent activity where someone hits your credit limit like Miley Cyrus on that wrecking ball.
It's SO much easier to resolve this sort of fraud with your credit card provider and you don't have to pay for anything that's been purchased fraudulently. (More on exactly how I know that, later.)
3) Even MORE protection.
Credit cards are covered by the Consumer Credit Act and the Consumer Credit Directive which are two BORING sounding legal things which ultimately mean: it's not just the shop that's liable for your beauty buys - your credit card provider is too.
BASICALLY - if you borrow money from your Credit Card company and they're the ones who directly pay the Shop, it's almost like you've bought something directly from the Credit Card Company right?
So if you buy something that's broken or just generally MASSIVELY rubbish and the online shop has either disappeared, or gone into super defensive mode (or should that be Doe-fensive?)... then your credit card provider will pay you back. Subject to a reasonable claim process of course.
And you know why I say that so confidently? Because it all happened to me.
Yes - I was a victim of credit card fraud last year and at the time it was actually pretty terrifying. HOW? WHY? BUT SERIOUSLY, HOW!! It was such a surprise because I'm THE most cautious person with my cards - I do all the schoolboy stuff like covering my pin, never giving details on the phone, never writing down PIN details and always shredding documents with identity on it. I work in Finance for jebus sake, this stuff shouldn't happen to me!!
But card fraud does happen and (in the style of that big Lotto hand on the TV), it could happen to YOUUU.
How did I find out? I got a text from my card provider saying that my card had been used in Calais and that I needed to call them. Ironically, I actually thought that that text in itself was a spam text so I ignored it, obvs. (The double edged sword that comes with being a digital native!)
I then looked at my credit card statement the next day and I saw about a thousand pounds spent on Eurotunnel, a fancy restaurant and various bits of girls-gone-wild spending. Naturally, PANIC ensued.
Thankfully, I then called my card provider to help them identify which transactions were mine and which weren't and they sorted it out there and then. Card cancelled, new cards issued, all charges reversed - it was like nothing had happened. Would I have got this all back if it had been my debit card? Probably no.
And as if you didn't need more reason to shop with a credit card over a debit card....
A lot of credit cards reward you for spending - yes, getting paid to shop WAA! It can be in the form of air miles, cash back, nectar points - you basically get something for spending the same amount that you would spend with your debit card - oh and heaps and heaps of protection too.
See here for another Face Value Money Monday blog post - help on choosing a credit card!
LESSON TWO: Consider Where To Shop
Don't just shop on 'any' website. Just because a website has the facility to process card payments, it doesn't mean that it's safe. If I put a sign outside my house saying BANK, does that mean you can give me all ya money?
The Online world is a bargain-buyer's hunting ground and there are heaps and heaps of cheap websites on the internet where you can buy a pairs of shoes for £5 and they are very tempting. (*cough* everything5pounds.com)
Scarily enough, I would never blink an eye at this - it didn't matter how dodgy the website looked, they took card payments, they must be a REAL shop right?
Not every online website is legit. Here are some ways to keep your next online shop is secure.
- Make sure that the payment page starts with HTTPS:// - the s stands for secure. Sweeeet.
- Check the icon in the address bar, is it a padlock (yay) or is it a broken key? You know what the broken key results in.... broken bank balances!
- Never email your bank or full credit card details to anyone. An email is like a letter which can never fully be destroyed and can be forwarded to anyone.
- If you've not heard of the seller and the deal sounds too good to be true, take 5 minutes to quickly google them. A lot of scams are shouted about on the internet and you're better off finding out now rather than later!
- Always save your emails and online receipts - it's very easy to delete them and lose them to the underworld that is your Inbox but they will definitely come in useful if you need to dispute anything later. Try filing them in a separate folder.
Oh yeah, and it doesn't hurt to pimp the shiz out of your computer protection and make sure you have firewalls and virus protection! If you don't want to fork out, AVG Anti Virus is a decent FREEEE programme that I've used time and time again.
So there we go - next time you're making an online purchase, remember these tips and stay protected! Keep your hard earned money for yourself and not for internet thieves!
For more info, check out my full range of Money Monday's here..
What do YOU think? Have you been affected by the Lime Crime drama? Or have you ever been a victim of card fraud?
Tweet me your thoughts @FaceValueBlog or send me a comment on Facebook!
By Zoe Dubs