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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 Margarete, 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, Margarete tried online banking on her phone and entered the wrong digit. Instead of transferring $200 to her friend for a dinner, she entered $2000. Although they both had a laugh about it, she is now afraid of sending money from her phone – and leave this to her husband.

Example 2
“I worry that friends and family would think less of me if something went wrong in any transaction I made.”
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Example 2

This purchase risk is focused on the fear that friends and family would think less of someone if they made a mistake purchasing something. For instance, Margarete’s husband tends to dominate tech in their household. She recently bought him a birthday present online, but it has not shown up. She is afraid of telling him, not just because it would ruin the surprise, but also because she thinks she fell for a scam – which would greatly annoy her husband.


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

Individual Strategies for Managing Purchase Risk

Strategy Illustration 6


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 5


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.

Margarete Strategy 4
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You may be interested in
Other potential risks that Margarete 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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