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Virtual consumption: control spending during the pandemic and be aware of scams



The coronavirus pandemic is changing the consumption habits of Brazilians. A survey by the Brazilian Association of E-Commerce shows that some categories of consumer goods have grown more than 100% on online commerce since the beginning of March. Many people are experiencing online shopping for the first time. According to Ebit|Nielsen, the data analysis consultancy services, almost 20% of consumers in Brazil have made their first online purchase after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increase in online consumption requires people to pay more attention and plan not to become financially unbalanced and not to get into any type of fraud. “Always try to use reliable websites. Whenever possible, ask your network if anyone knows the website or application, and use the credit card for online purchases available at most banks.”, says Rui Borges Jr. of Vale's Information Security team.

Expense Control

Some unforeseen expenses may arise, so finance control must be taken seriously.

Check out some recommendations

  • Before online shopping, make a list of the fixed monthly expenses and compare it with your budget; that is, how much money is coming in and how much is going out.
  • If it is difficult to balance the accounts, check your options. Avoid using the overdraft facility and revolving credit cards. These forms of credit are often very expensive.
  • Avoid impulse buying. For some people, shopping becomes a way to cope with negative feelings at this moment of pandemic. If you are in doubt, wait a few days to make sure that the purchase is required.
  • In quarantine, the delivery of meals has become very common. Despite the convenience, this type of expense can easily be reduced with planning and division of tasks at home.
  • With the consumer model focused on services, we have several subscriptions to websites, applications, or streaming platforms. Check that they are all required as these small expenses accumulate throughout the year.

General Tips for Online Shopping

  • Buy from websites you know, trust, and have already used.
  • If the price is well below the normal value, be wary. Very low prices can be a sign of attempted fraud.
  • Whenever possible, prefer online payment. Avoid contact with the card machine during delivery. Despite the ease they bring, the machines are usually associated with cloning of cards.
  • If possible, pay by online credit card. Several banks offer this option via applications. With the online card, you can buy more safely because you do not need to inform your physical card details. Your bank's application generates a unique digital card number that is used only for a one-time purchase.
  • Websites have become sales platforms for several suppliers that go beyond the physical stores. Always check who the seller is, and do not purchase anything if you are not sure of the origin.
  • Look for contact information to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of a cyber scam. The easier you find phone numbers as well as physical and e-mail addresses to contact e-commerce, ask questions or report problems, the more reliable the website is.
  • Before completing the purchase, read the company's exchange and return policy and check that it complies with the Consumer Protection Code. It sounds burdensome, but it helps prevent bigger problems in the future.
  • If this type of purchase is new to you, do not think twice before asking for directions from relatives and friends, especially those who usually shop on the Internet.

Click here and understand the influence of emotions on consumer habits and learn to organize your finances

Beware of Virtual Scams

Spending more time browsing and shopping on the Internet requires constant attention to avoid cyber scams, including phishing. Phishing is the act of manipulating people to try to collect information such as username, password, CPF (Individual Taxpayer Registration Number), credit card details, or even money. “Always try to enter the store's website directly. Never click on a link or an attachment you receive by e-mail, SMS, WhatsApp, or any other message tool,” explains Rui. “Several criminals change a single character in the website address so that the user does not realize it is a fake website.”

Click here to learn how to protect yourself from virtual threats.

Virtual consumption: control spending during the pandemic and be aware of scams