5 Tips to Control Online Spending

Finance experts have issued consumers with a list of their top five tips for managing spending money online so that they may avoid blowing their budget with a single click of the mouse.

In what is very much a digital age, it is easier than ever before to order goods and services online and we are increasingly being encouraged to do so with advertising campaigns and money-saving offers to flood our email accounts and popping up as advertisements on every site we visit on the internet.

It can be so easy to inadvertently accumulate huge balances on your credit cards. However, by following these tips, put together by personal finance experts, you can keep a tight grip on your online spending.

1. Remember That You Are Spending Real Money

Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow explains,

A lot of people have gotten into trouble because it’s harder to conceptualize money going out when you use your credit card and just clicking a button is even easier than whipping out your new credit card in the store.

Consumers should avoid saving credit card details on shopping sites. That way they must go in search of their wallet giving them time to think about the cost.

PRO Tip
Don’t save your credit card details on shopping sites, ever.

2. Include Online Spending In Your Budget

It is important to count and categorize everything you are spending online. Eric Tyson, author of Personal Finance for Dummies says going through 3 to 6 months of credit card statements to highlight online spending habits is “a good way to identify where to begin to make changes.”

3. Know When You Are Being Targeted

When you share information about yourself online, you make it easier for marketers to zero in on your weak spots and convince you to spend more money. One particularly aggressive marketing strategy is Facebook. Eric Tyson said,

Facebook is basically a way for marketers to stay in touch with and push products to their customers. That’s how Facebook makes money. You might innocently click on a little item – I Like Starbucks – and before you know it, you are inundated with ads for Starbucks.

Think twice before declaring your love for a product or service online – or at least be aware that you are being targeted.

4. Watch Out For Items You Didn’t Know You Wanted

With the increasing popularity of offers from providers such as Groupon or Amazon, consumers are increasingly tempted into great deals but often you would never normally think of buying the goods or services on offer. When taking up such offers, only buy things you would have purchased anyway.

5. Use Tricks To Limit Online Spending

If you put measures in place to make it harder for you to overspend you will be less likely to do it. For example, if you budget for $300 of online spending, get a credit card with a $300 credit limit and make it the only one you use online. That way you cannot exceed the maximum limit.

7 Tips For Safer Online Gaming

In recent weeks there has been an astounding level of hype building up around two of the newest game versions release for Battlefield and Call of Duty Modern Warfare. These games have raised a great deal of concern for parents who are worried about online gaming.

Remember, Sony was dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons when they were hit with two major data breaches.

The first was a hack on the Playstation Network which left consumers vulnerable when their personal information was exposed. This is estimated to have affected around 70 million people all over the world.

The other security breach affected 25 million individuals who held accounts at Sony Online Entertainment. The two attacks in such a short space of time really hit home the security risks that come hand and hand with online gaming.

It acted as a wake-up call for the parents of many teens who play games such as Call of Duty online. The majority of those affected were teens. It is apparent that there is a very real need for consumers to make smarter choices when it comes to gaming,

The National Cyber Security Alliance has issued a number of tips to help consumers to safely navigate the online gaming world.

  1. Ensure that your computer is up to date with a security suite of software including anti-spyware, a firewall and anti-virus tools.
  2. Make sure all passwords are very strong. A good password is at least eight characters long and should contain alpha numeric characters and at least one symbol.
  3. Teach children how to block and report attempts of cyberbullying.
  4. The user name should never reveal anything about your name, age or location.
  5. Children should never use a real image, opting for an avatar instead. Play with your child to be sure that you understand the game and be educated in age ratings.
  6. Monitor your child when they are online and make sure that they are fully aware that they must never send nor accept anything containing private data.
  7. Children should not download anything without permission and where possible you should make use of parental controls.

These tips will go some way towards avoiding identity theft and credit card fraud while involved in online gaming. However, the are not exclusive to gaming and can be put into practice for all cases of internet use.

How to Avoid Online Loan Scams

Recent statistics show that one of the easiest ways to become a target for both identity fraud and collection scams is to apply for a bad credit online loan.

Experts warn that once consumers have submitted an application for a bad credit online loan, their personal details can easily be used or sold by anyone in the world. In light of the report, consumers are being advised on the best ways to protect their identities and avoid online loan scams.

Every year hundreds of consumers are harassed by bogus debt collectors for debts that they do not owe. Many of these consumers have ended up paying thousands of dollars to online loan scams in order to get help which they do not actually need. When this happens, it is usually because the personal information has been compromised when they applied for an emergency loan, a small business loan or a payday advance online loan.

These online scams prey on those who have been turned down for a loan. They offer promises of approving loans even to those who have bad credit. However, those consumers who are taken in by the scam end up having their personal information sold to companies all over the world. These websites are also commonly set up to mask an “advance fee” loan provider.

This means that on being approved for the loan consumers are told that as security they need to make several months payments in advance before the loan can be released. This is a lose-lose situation.

Of course, not all online loans are scams so it is important to know which websites you can trust. There is no sense in telling consumers never to apply online for a loan, instead it is useful to educate consumers in what they should be looking out for. The first thing to check out is whether or not the site is secure. All good loan providers should have a security certificate from Verisign or a similar company.

Consumers can also look into the loan provider by visiting a search engine and searching the company name + complaints. This will give an overview of the company. A few complaints here and there is to be expected for any company, but if you come across many complaints then it is a definite red flag. Lastly, never pay any money upfront for a loan. You should not have to make a security deposit or an application fee when applying for a loan.