Online Shopping Tips: E-Commerce and You (Lesson – 6 – What’s Safest: Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Cash, or Checks?)

The safest way to shop on the Internet is with a credit card. In the event something goes wrong, you are protected under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act. You have the right to dispute charges on your credit card, and you can withhold payments during a creditor investigation. When it has been determined that your credit was used without authorization, you are only responsible for the first $50 in charges. You are rarely asked to pay this charge.

We recommend that you obtain one credit card that you use only for online payments to make it easier to detect wrongful credit charges. For more information on credit card consumer protections, see http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs32-paperplastic.htm#3

E-commerce shopping by check leaves you vulnerable to bank fraud. And sending a cashier’s check or money order doesn’t give you any protection if you have problems with the purchase.

Make sure your credit card is a true credit card and not a debit card, a check card, or an ATM card. As with checks, a debit card exposes your bank account to thieves. Your checking account could be wiped out in minutes. Further, debit and ATM cards are not protected by federal law to the extent that credit cards are.

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