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With the recent uptick in internet usage worldwide over the past few years, it should come as no surprise that the cases of cybercrime have increased correspondingly. Online criminals and hackers are cleverer than ever before and have found ways to breach even the most secure data. With this in mind, many people are understandably worried about putting their information online when making a purchase. We are going to be discussing whether using PayPal or a credit card is better when you are shopping online.

About PayPal

PayPal originated in 1998 when it was primarily used for making purchases on eBay. Today, it is one of the most popular online payment types in the world, with Visa at the top of the list. When you decide to use PayPal, you will set it up with your credit card, debit card, or bank account. When you purchase with PayPal, you can choose which account to charge.

Benefits of Using PayPal

Encrypted Information

Every time that you make a purchase with PayPal, your financial information is already saved so you do not have to re-enter it. This means that the seller is not able to see your bank account or card numbers. This vastly reduces the chance of fraud or identity theft, which can cause you severe financial repercussions.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid online shopping on websites that are not reputable. You can determine this by checking the URL of the site. If it starts with "HTTP", this means that the website has not invested in an SSL certificate, and the data that passes between the server and visitors' browsers is not encrypted. Instead, select websites that start with "HTTPS", as this demonstrates encryption security measures are in place. PayPal will automatically check that you are on a secure website when you try to log in to make a purchase.

When using online buy and sell marketplaces, people will sometimes arrange to meet in person to exchange money for items or services. In this situation, a safe recommendation is that you run a free background check on the individual, especially if you plan on meeting them in person. If you find something nefarious in their past, you might consider using PayPal to transfer money to them virtually instead.  

Downsides of Using PayPal

Since PayPal gets used all around the world, it is suspectable to more different types of cyberattacks. This also includes the potential to fall victim to identity theft. In addition to this, PayPal gives you the option to save all your log-in information on electronic devices. If someone were to steal your device, they could easily log into your PayPal account and access all your financial information.

Benefits of Using Credit Cards

Rewards

When you use your credit card to make an online purchase, you can always earn points or cashback money. You can redeem these points for eligible purchases or travel credits. If you keep on top of paying off your credit card statements on time, your credit rating will increase. This will benefit you in the future when you apply for a mortgage or a loan.

Commonly Accepted Method of Payment

Credit cards are very widely accepted methods of payment. If you come across an online store that cannot accept many payment options, likely, they will still accept credit cards.

Fraud Monitoring

Credit card companies will usually offer clients 24/7 fraud monitoring services. While reviewing your latest purchases, they will automatically flag any suspicious activity that they notice. They will often call you to confirm the activity or place a freeze on your account in this situation. If you confirm that it is fraudulent activity, the company will help you cancel your card, arrange for a new one, and refund you any money that the hacker stole.

Downsides of Using Credit Cards

The major downside of using credit cards for online shopping is that the information is not encrypted. Every time you make a purchase, you have to submit your credit card number, expiration date, and CVV number online. The seller can access this information and potentially store it in their database if they have a legitimate reason to.

Which One is Better?

Overall, PayPal is slightly safer when it comes to online shopping. This is because the seller has access to less information than if you had entered a credit card number. With PayPal, the most that the seller would be able to see is the buyer's name, email address, and shipping information, so there is a lower risk of fraud.

Tips for Staying Safe While Online Shopping

No matter which payment method you end up using, it is always important to remain vigilant when online shopping. One of the most important things to do is regularly check your financial statements and PayPal activity. This will alert you to any fraudulent charges as soon as possible.

Another tip is to avoid opening any suspicious-looking emails, even if they seem to be from PayPal or your credit card company. Check for misspelled words, requests for private information, or strange-looking logos as a clue that the email might be fake. Do not ever open any links if you are unsure of the email's origins. If you have concerns, call PayPal representatives or your credit card company to confirm the email's legitimacy.

Finally, make sure that all your online passwords are very secure. They should be different for each online account, and consist of a variety of numbers, letters, and symbols. A common recommendation for password length is anywhere between 12-15 characters. Try to make them extremely difficult to guess by not including any personal information. Some people will often use a password managing service to help them keep track of all their account login information.   

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