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Safe Online Shopping - Understanding eChecks

written by: •edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 2/28/2011

Echecks are - as the name implies - electronic checks used for payment of goods and services online. But who provides eChecks, and how can you take advantage of them?

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    Safe Payment, Slower Transaction

    Staying Safe While Shopping by eCheck Shopping online brings with it an element of risk, regardless of how you intend to pay. You might be using a credit or debit card, vouchers or an online payment system such as PayPal. If your system is not secure though, then neither will work as your payment method.

    A popular way of paying for goods and services online is by eCheck, an online payment method that offers several benefits over solutions such as PayPal instant payments.

    Various online payment systems employ eChecks as a safe alternative to the more common instant payments that generally deduct funds from your bank account as you make the payment.

    EChecks are a safer alternative, but also a slower payment method.

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    What Are eChecks?

    Provided by various online payment services, eChecks are pretty much what the name implies, electronic checks, legal payment methods that typically feature all of the same information as a paper check.

    Like their physical cousins, eChecks can take some time to transfer funds from one account to another, and like paper checks they can be seen as a safer payment option.

    The most commonly used eCheck is the one provided by PayPal. While most online transactions feature money transferred from your bank account straightaway, eChecks take 5-7 working days. This is obviously quite a long time, but should be seen as a benefit.

    You might find yourself paying by eCheck if you don’t have a suitable bank or credit card associated with your PayPal account – funds are removed instantaneously from your bank account with a fully up-to-date credit or debit card registered.

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    Shop Safe with eChecks

    If you were shopping on eBay and paying by PayPal, you could expect payment to be made instantaneously. You might pay by eCheck for a specific service or item found at a niche online store, and because of the unusual nature of the item you are buying and the status of the store as a previously unknown entity (without any of the associated trust that comes with shopping online at somewhere like Amazon) this is a very safe option.

    Paying by eCheck gives you the option to cancel the payment should you become suspicious of the seller or retailer, and as such can be a safer option than standard online payments. Note that in the case of PayPal, a cancelled eCheck payment will still be removed from your bank account; the funds will instead be transferred to your PayPal account.

    As such there are fewer risks when shopping with eCheck, although there are several general rules that you should apply for safe online shopping. For instance whether you use an instant payment or an eCheck, you should use a credit card as the source for the funds, as your credit card company will be able to assist with disputing a transaction. Note also that PayPal will generally decide in favour of the purchaser rather than the seller during disputes.

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    Source: Author Experience

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Óðinn