Most secure transaction forms to purchase during the holidays

In this hyperconnected digital age we now have multiple ways to make purchases, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out which way is the most secure to avoid fraud traps. This has become a cause of stress for most consumers, as we balance digital convenience and our personal information. The reality is that neither of the current options, credit, debit or digital are perfect. However, we can definitely take steps to protect ourselves, especially during the holidays, a time when we all tend to make our biggest purchases.

In an interview with The New York Times, Carole Reynolds, a senior lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission, said: “The strongest protections are when you pay with credit card.” The main reason for this is that with a credit card you’re not risking your own money as with a debit card. Besides that, if you report a credit card fraud, banks will typically hold the transaction immediately. But if you don’t want to charge every purchase to a credit card but want the same security, especially if you decided to try an online merchandiser, you can ask for one-time credit card number from your bank to get even more protection.

On the other hand, with a debit card, the money is drawn automatically. It’s true that there are federal laws that safeguard your account, but these are limited and the level of protection diminish even more as time passes. The best you can do if you choose to use debit cards is to keep an eye on your bank statement and report any suspicious transaction as soon as you can. You have up to 60 days after your bank sends the statement, to report any issue and be able to solve any problem, but if you miss that deadline, you could lose your money.

If you’re more comfortable with online shopping, the best option is to go with services like PayPal or Apple Pay. Even though it sounds like you’re putting more personal information out there, it’s much safer to have your account linked to one secure third party instead of giving your card number to all the stores you’re buying from.

There are always pros and cons on these technological options like Apple Pay, especially if using the Apple Watch. When you add a card to your account, this information is encrypted and a unique device account number is assigned, which allows you to make the purchase without giving any information to the register. But the downside is that not every store is equipped with contactless point-of-sale terminals yet, so these can’t be your only option when going out for shopping.

Remember that no matter what method you use, you need to be aware of simple details, for example, before making an online purchase make sure that the browser URL is an HTTPS instead of HTTP, the S at the end demonstrates the secure software added by the provider. If you don’t recognize a transaction on your statement, call your bank immediately; time is the most valuable resource you have in these cases.

Still concerned? Cash has always been a great option, so don’t be afraid to use it!