Save on online shopping and buy safely

How many times have you shopped online and almost immediately noticed ads for similar items popping up on your screen? As consumers, we must be aware of targeting, whereby similar products appear on our screen based on our purchase intentions and browsing habits. This marketing method allows companies to target specific audiences with similar characteristics. Their intent is to reveal corresponding offers, matching our interests and preferences, to potentially increase the likelihood we will spend more.

Be aware of additional costs. Value-added tax is imposed on businesses in Israel (excluding Eilat). When buying online, note whether the listed price includes VAT, or whether perhaps deliberately hidden, implying a lower price.

Be mindful of delivery or additional charges. Delivery costs often spike the overall charge leaving you with an uneconomical deal. In some cases, products may be offered at reduced prices, tempting you to make unnecessary purchases, and spend beyond intended, despite the offer for a free delivery service. If you are tempted, make sure it’s worth it. When ordering goods from overseas remember that products valued below $75, are tax fee. Goods valued at the cost of $75-$500 imply an additional 17% VAT. Constraints may vary, therefore it’s worth checking the Israeli Tax Authority website prior to shopping for larger items.

Check the return policy. Items valued over 50ILS can be returned in their original packages. Most items may be returned with a receipt within 14 days of delivery: furniture, home goods, electric appliances, clothing, etc. Many a time we’re too lazy to return online purchases that aren’t quite what we wanted, leaving us with unwanted items. Remember this when you next consider an online shop.

Validate all credit card expenses: review bills and charges to your bank account. You may find you have been overcharged, way beyond what you had in mind.

Online Security

Beware of Phishing – A type of fraud, aimed at robbing us of information by impersonating legitimate business or salesperson. Phishing can be used as a way to collect personal details, credit card details or other financial data. In certain cases, phishing is only the first stage within a wider cyber-attack.

Alternative payment services, such as Paypal, offer a typically safer option for online shopping and ensures your data has not been stored. Paypal, for instance, provides secure encrypted coding with a filtered system preventing counterfeits, with a unique insurance that protects from scams.

So, next time you make online purchases be conscious and cautious. Look out for more consumer tips from Paamonim, which provides financial education and guidance to families in Israel.

About the Author
Sharon Levin has an M.A. in Public Policy and is a certified Group Facilitator. She has worked for Paamonim since 2009, lead roles include Regional Director responsible for Paamonim's volunteers who provide free one-on-one financial counseling. As Director of Group Activities, she headed the establishment of Paamonim College for Financial Education, offering courses, programs, and lectures teaching financial fundamentals to participants, all geared towards helping people acquire financial education for better living.