PayPal helps you shop smart
Shopping online: many of you are doing it! And for those who aren’t, perhaps it’s because of the uncertainty that comes with using your credit card online. Just how safe is it? We spoke with Nicky Mezo, head of marketing at PayPal Canada, for the 411 on web fraud and how you can shop safely.
What percentage of Canadians shop online?
According to a recent eMarketer study, there were 17.3 million Canadian online shoppers in 2010, which represents 80.7% of Canadian internet users. “The number of Canadians shopping online is growing faster than in the United States,” says Mezo. “We’re a newer market and few of our larger retailers are online, so Canadians love shopping “across the border” quite a bit, especially in the U.S., because of the exchange rate and the wider variety.”
How prevalent is fraud?
“Fraud is everywhere, online and off,” warns Mezo. In fact, according to a June 2010 report by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, approximately 41 cents of every dollar lost is due to scams like spoof websites and phishing emails!
But fraud rate has reduced significantly online, and PayPal is doing its part in ensuring shoppers’ safety. “We work with different agencies and police to ensure fraudulent activities are taken down.” PayPal also has an email address if anyone across Canada suspects a fraudulent website or email. “Just send a message to email@example.com and you will hear back on whether the site or email is, in fact, fraudulent.”
How can people ensure they are on a safe site?
“If PayPal is available for payment, it is a secure way to pay online,” explains Mezo. “Because shoppers’ financial information is never shared with the seller. It is a free account and can be connected to any bank account or credit card. It’s like having a wallet in the sky!”
Another easy way to spot a safe website is to go to the browser bar and look at the beginning of the URL: make sure that https:// precedes the web address. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’, and that is an easy way to know that you’re about to shop on a safe website.
What can shoppers do on their end for the ultimate in safety?
“Shopping online unprotected is like driving without a seatbelt,” advises Mezo. “People need to be smart, and to make smart choices both online and off.” A few of her suggestions include:
Use a specific browser. “I suggest browsers like Internet Explorer 7 or 8, or Firefox 3, because these are the most updated internet browsers, and will help block fraudulent sites.” Also, she recommends installing the most up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer, and says that the effort and investment will be well worth it.
Have safe passwords. “It is recommended that you don’t use obvious passwords [such as your pet's name]. Also, don’t use the same password all across the Internet.” While it may be easier to remember just one password, it is best to have one for email, another for banking, and another for shopping.
Don’t get click-happy in your inbox. For those spam emails, Mezo says that certain indications can put up a red flag. “These emails have a sense of urgency to them, such as the words “Act now!”. Also, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Find out which sites are safe first. Before you whip out your credit card, go to paypal.ca/shopping for a list of merchants that take PayPal. “There are over 100,000 sellers that take PayPal, from larger to smaller ones,” says Mezo. Some examples include Dell, eBay, Gelaskins, Toys R Us, LUSH, and more! “More merchants are coming on-board, because we have over 4 million customers in Canada and it is the most secure way to pay online.”
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