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Perceived Purchase Risk

Perceived purchase risk is present when people fear and are concerned about wasting or losing money when purchasing or using products or services online. This risk includes making transaction mistakes, not receiving goods, and processing errors. Many older adults are concerned about using online banking and making errors which could result in them losing money. Others are worried about not understanding products, services or payment methods when attempting to purchase items.

For Joshua, these perceptions of risk manifest in the following ways:

Example 1
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“I am often afraid I will make mistakes when transferring money online.”

Example 1

This risk perception relates to a fear of making mistakes in transferring funds online. It manifests in observable behaviour as avoidance of online banking. For example, Joshua tried online banking and entered the wrong digit. Instead of paying the plumber 200 he entered 2000 and had to contact the plumber. Ever since then – Joshua won’t do online banking. He only pays people in cash or cheques. He is too fearful of making a mistake and then losing money.

Example 2
“I worry the goods I purchased online will not show up.”
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Example 2

This risk manifest as a fear that online purchased product will not be processed, and you will be financially out of pocket and not get the item. For example, Joshua bought a car part from overseas and it took so long to arrive that he was very concerned it would never come. The stress in waiting for the item means that Joshua won’t buy anything else online. He doesn’t want to go through that worry again.


Can you relate to those example above?  Go to strategies to learn about how Joshua can address these issues.

Individual Strategies for Managing Purchase Risk

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Be kind to yourself. Recognise that it will take a bit more time when you are learning something new.


Start with small purchases. You can learn online purchasing by making small purchases from online websites of reputable physical stores that you know. They will often be able to help you if anything goes wrong.


Address details. Double check if you have included the correct contact details - your name, email, and address.


PayPal. Use PayPal for added security as you don’t share your financial details with the provider. PayPal also reimburses you when your goods are not delivered. Alternatively, arrange a low limit credit card dedicated for purchasing online products.


Prepaid cards. Another safe option for online purchases are prepaid cards from supermarkets.


Do your research. Research before committing to buying anything online, especially if it is a new app or a digital resource. You might not need it, or there might be a free version. If you are not comfortable with the purchase, don’t do it.


Be wary. When considering purchasing something online, be careful and critical, scrutinise the sites’ reputation and read customers’ reviews. Stop if you notice anything unusual, it might be hackers or scams. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true. You can always find safer alternatives.


Banks and financial institutions.
  • Go onto your financial institutions’ website and explore their tutorials on online banking. Alternatively, go into a branch and ask for assistance and take notes
  • Remember to regularly check your accounts for unusual activities
  • If you make a mistake or notice something unusual in your bank account – go to your financial institution immediately.

Relational Strategies for Managing Purchase Risk

Strategy Illustration 4


Seek recommendations. Ask family members/friends who shop online to provide reference of places that are safe to buy.


Get some help. When doing purchase online for the first time, consider asking your family members/friend to guide you step by step. Remember to take notes so that you can repeat it later.


Courses. Join ICT (computer, tablet, smartphone) courses for beginners developed for older adults. Discuss what you need with your tutors. Share your purchase experiences with your friends.


Banking and financial institutions. If you make a mistake or notice something unusual in your bank account – go to your financial institution immediately.
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Strategies to Managing Perceived Purchase Risk

Perceived purchase risks are aligned both with the person’s ICT ability and the person’s confidence to overcome the perceived risk when engaging with the digital device. There are individual strategies people can do themselves to manage this risk, as well as relational strategies which consider the role of social influence on a person’s ability to try new things and interact with ICT.

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Joshua Strategies 4
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You may be interested in
Other potential risks that Joshua is facing:

will this digital device work the way I want it to – it includes forgetting instructions and managing passwords.
concerns about feeling incompetent, getting frustrated and being overwhelmed with digital technology.
worries about online transactions, not receiving the purchased goods and processing errors.
fear of buying too much online and the costs with upgrading software and devices.
concerns that digital devices encourage physical inactivity and becoming addicted to the devices as well as the strains on eyesight.
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