How can I pay safely?
Pay for your online purchases with a credit card, if possible. When paying with a credit card, you may require a refund from a credit card company under chapter 7, section 39 of the Finnish Consumer Protection Act if the goods are not delivered or if they are incorrect. Banks’ websites usually contain a readymade form for filing a payment refund claim, for example, with the search phrase “card claim” or “card complaint” (“korttireklamaatio” in Finnish).
Pay attention to the protection of payments in online shops. In particular, you can verify the encryption of online banks with the lock icon in the browser’s address bar and with the fact that the network address starts with https://. But be careful because these days the lock icon or the address starting with https:// are not a guarantee of the trustworthiness or authenticity of the website. Data encryption can also be used for scams.
The page where you enter your credit card information should also show your order details (in particular, the total costs). Do not provide your credit card information on the phone or by e-mail.
Also check what kinds of security instructions your credit card company provides in relation to online payments.
A consumer may also be able to ask for a refund of debit card payments if the debit card company has granted you this possibility in their terms and conditions or otherwise.
Using payment intermediation services is feasible if you do not want to give the seller your credit card information or if you do not have a credit card. Payment services are often used, for example, when buying products in a foreign online auction platform from a private person. One example of payment intermediation services is PayPal. PayPal’s parent company is in the United States, but it has a subsidiary in Luxembourg, PayPal (Europe). You can transfer the money to PayPal by bank transfer or credit card. Like some other payment intermediation services, PayPal has its own buyer protection. You can read more about PayPal’s buyer protection here.
Not all companies offering payment intermediation services (escrow companies) are designed to work with online sales. Therefore, the identity of the recipient of the money is not necessarily checked, and not all payment intermediary companies agree to return funds if you do not receive the product. For example, Western Union itself has warned against fraud related to money transfers. Therefore, do not use payment intermediation services of the Western Union type to send money to people you do not know.
Large operators may have various invoice or instalment and consumer credit options for online purchases. Always review the terms and conditions of the contract before selecting a certain payment method, and compare the final costs.
What payment methods should be avoided?
Cash on delivery is used only by some of the biggest online shops in cross-border trade. Please note that you do not have the possibility to inspect the product before paying for it.
As a rule, bank transfer should not be used as a method of payment, at least not in online shops that you do not already know. When you pay for your products in advance with bank transfer, you should study the company’s background information carefully and familiarise yourself with the material found online, as you may not be able to get your money back if the seller proves not trustworthy or goes bankrupt. The Checklist for online purchases helps you assess the seller’s trustworthiness.