Saving your payment details online could get you into financial trouble

Ever found yourself entertaining demanding youngsters? Ever had to juggle them whilst working? Ever chosen to entertain them by handing over your smartphone? It is certainly a tempting solution. After all, smartphones are so easy to navigate and they are full of apps to distract even the most demanding youngster.

Yet a recent article in the Daily Mail may change your mind, as it proves that the seemingly simple solution can be more trouble than it’s worth…

How much?!

The paper reports on a nursery manager who fell victim to the dangers of saving payment details online, when her 5-year-old nephew inadvertently made a purchase through an app. And not just any purchase, a trip to Nepal costing nearly £600!

The owner of the phone only became aware of the unwanted purchase when she noticed her bank account looking somewhat leaner than it had been previously. Her nephew had stumbled upon an app for Groupon, the most famous of the growing legion of daily discount providers. With payment details saved from a previous purchase, the young boy was able to procure the expensive holiday with one simple click.

Unfortunately, Groupon were, perhaps understandably, reticent when dealing with the unusual situation and all that was offered was credit for a future purchase with the company. Not ideal when over £500 needs to be rescinded!

In desperation, the bank was contacted and more positive news came through: a scheme called ‘chargeback,’ designed to protect debit card users, would allow her to make a claim for the money.

Be smart!

So how can you avoid falling into a similar trap when making purchases online and avoid being lumbered with a debt on your credit card that you didn’t expect? Whether using a phone, a tablet, laptop or desktop, it is vital that you only buy from legitimate and regulated companies. It is in the interest of these businesses to keep their websites secure.

But there are extra precautions you can take in addition to the reputation of the website. At the point you are asked to enter your card details, look closely at the address bar at the top of the page. The address should start with https, NOT http. It may seem an insignificant detail, but that little ‘s’ is very important, as it is a signal of security. The ‘s’ shows that information you are entering will be sent using secure encryption.

As alluded to before, checking your statement is essential. If you have made a purchase online, you can check the details and see that it has gone through correctly. And, in addition to this, you can check for anomalies. Are there any transactions you do not recognise? Locations where your card has been used yet you haven’t been? Strange website names you are unfamiliar with? Often, there are explanations for these seeming irregularities, but there is no harm in checking.

As for the unfortunate smartphone incident, Groupon did confirm that the money had indeed been replaced following the bank’s intervention… but did point out that the entire issue could have been prevented if the card details had not been stored. Yes, it means having to enter your details each time. But if your smartphone, tablet or laptop is ever used by anyone else, it is a small price to pay to avoid a situation such as the one outlined above.

However, is it always clear that your card details are being stored? Websites and apps are not always transparent in their policies in storing information and it is often left to the individual to take security precautions.

So it appears vigilance is the name of the game. But taking the time now, may well save you a heap of financial bother in the future.

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