Is AliExpress Safe To Use With a Debit Card? Guidelines for Secure Shopping

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Nov 10, 2023
 Min Read

Often referred to by consumers as the Chinese version of Amazon, AliExpress is an online marketplace that’s enjoyed success around the world. In January 2023, it hit an all-time peak, attracting over 449 million visitors globally. The biggest contributors to AliExpress’s advancements are its vast selection of items and below-competitive prices.

Still, some users are skeptical of AliExpress, as there have been many reports of undelivered or ill-advertised goods. Other users have concerns about the security of their data, which is understandable and expected when dealing with large e-commerce platforms like AliExpress.

This article will tackle the topic of payment data security on AliExpress by answering questions such as:

  • Is AliExpress safe to use with a debit card?
  • Is it safer to use a credit card than a debit card on AliExpress?
  • What are the security risks AliExpress users should be aware of?
  • What are some steps buyers can take to make shopping on AliExpress safer?

Is It Safe To Use a Debit Card on AliExpress?

In its Privacy Policy, AliExpress claims to have implemented technical and administrative measures for preventing unauthorized access to the website and user data. The platform needs to collect your card information during a transaction, but it claims third-party sellers cannot access this data. 

A photo of a typewriter and a sheet of paper in it displaying the word AliExpress
Source: Markus Winkler

AliExpress has its own payment platform and uses the escrow system for transactions. This means that the platform withholds the payment until the delivery is complete, and the seller receives the payment only after you confirm that the package has arrived and meets the provided description.

The escrow system enables AliExpress to have a robust buyer protection program. According to this program, you can request a refund if an item doesn’t arrive within the specified period. In case the item was delivered but is defective or unsatisfactory, you can file a dispute with the seller and try to reach an agreement. AliExpress will step in to help resolve the issue if the negotiation process doesn’t wrap up within 15 days.

Although AliExpress is generally safe to shop at, it’s not foolproof. Regardless of the website or app you’re using, you run the risk of having your card data stolen whenever you give it away. 

A close-up photo of a tablet displaying the AliExpress’s homepage on the screen, with two payment cards beside it

Potential Security Issues AliExpress Users Should Be Aware Of

When it comes to security, AliExpress poses the same security concerns as most other similar e-commerce platforms, such as Wish, eBay, or Shein. Despite the precautions, there’s always a risk of:

  • Data breaches—In recent years, there haven’t been any publicly known reports of a security breach on AliExpress, but the possibility always exists, as it does with any online merchant. Retail websites are a profitable target for hackers since they store sensitive user data, such as card numbers and home addresses. 
  • Account takeover—A hacker may attempt to guess your login credentials and access your AliExpress account. AliExpress doesn’t offer an additional authentication method during login, which may only increase this risk. A hacker who manages to obtain your login credentials and access your account can also steal other sensitive information and sell it on the dark web or use it to impersonate you.
  • Phishing—A cybercriminal may pose as a legitimate entity, such as AliExpress customer support, in an attempt to obtain sensitive information from you. The criminal may send you a message or an email asking you to provide information such as your debit card numbers or login credentials, click on a link that directs you to a fake login page embedded with malicious code, or download content infected with malware. While these messages can be well-crafted and difficult to distinguish from the real deal, there are certain giveaway signs that may help you recognize a fraud attempt—such as the urgent tone, grammatical or typographical errors, and an impersonal greeting.
  • Seller fraud—Some sellers on AliExpress may be fraudulent. They typically operate by performing subtle deceptions in an attempt to earn additional funds. However, some of them may try to acquire your payment card information. For instance, they may ask you to pay them externally and then swipe your data via a compromised payment gateway.

Buying With Debit Cards vs. Credit Cards—Which Is Safer?

If you fall victim to debit card fraud, you are protected regardless of the type of card you have used.

According to the law, debit cards and credit cards have slightly different protection terms. In case of an unauthorized transaction on your credit card, your liability as a consumer is limited to $50 if you file a dispute within 60 days. 

Debit cards offer protection as well, but they impose stricter time limits for reporting the issue. Generally, if you notify the issuer of fraud within three days, the maximum amount you can be liable for is $50. Your maximum responsibility for unauthorized charges is $500 if you report the problem within 60 days.

While most debit and credit card issuers have zero-liability policies for their customers, you still have to go through an arduous dispute and card replacement process in case of fraud. The only way to avoid it is to prevent your card or bank data from becoming compromised in the first place. You can do so by taking measures to fortify the security of your payment card data when shopping online.

Tips for Enhancing Your Payment Data Security on AliExpress

The following table explains what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to keeping your financial information safe on AliExpress:

  1. Save card information—You may be inclined to save your card number on your AliExpress profile to avoid typing it in for every purchase. It is best to avoid doing so, as it could increase the chances of having your information stolen in a data breach.

  2. Shop on public Wi-Fi—Don’t log into your account or make purchases on AliExpress when connected to public Wi-Fi. Public networks are typically less secure than private ones, so hackers could steal your sensitive data more easily.

  3. Fall for fraud attempts—You should analyze all messages you receive from AliExpress, including the sender's address. It is paramount not to take any action until you've confirmed the legitimacy of the message. Also, if a seller has bad reviews or makes any unusual requests (such as to conduct the transaction outside of AliExpress), it's best to avoid doing business with them.

  1. Set strong passwords—Since AliExpress doesn’t have two-factor authentication, the password is your main safeguard against unauthorized access to your account. Choose unique and strong passwords for all websites you use to make them resistant to dictionary and brute-force attacks.

  2. Monitor your account—You should check your bank statements regularly and turn on transaction alerts. That way, you can detect fraud and act on it in a timely manner to mitigate the consequences.

  3. Use virtual cards—Connect your debit card or bank account with a virtual card and shield your financial information from potential hackers in case of a security breach at a merchant’s website. If you need a reliable virtual card provider that offers advanced security and card controls, consider Privacy.

Privacy—The Key To Safe and Convenient Shopping

A 3D render of a laptop surrounded by cardboard boxes
Source: Mediamodifier

In an age when data breaches and identity thefts are an unfortunate reality, an effective solution such as Privacy is priceless.

Privacy Virtual Cards substitute your real financial information with randomly generated numbers at checkout, preventing it from being stolen in case hackers breach a merchant’s servers. Privacy Cards can be connected to your bank account or debit card and used at most online stores that accept U.S. debit or credit card payments.

Privacy meets the Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements and provides the same level of security as any reliable bank. Some of its safety measures include:

  • Password hashing with 100,000 iterations 
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption protocol for data in transit
  • Firewalls and regular security patch updates
  • Two-factor authentication and one-time passcode
  • Notification and email every time a virtual card is used or declined

As a holder of the Better Business Bureau® accreditation, Privacy has established itself as an ethical company with a high commitment to providing excellent customer service.

Understanding Privacy Virtual Cards and Card Controls

Below, you will learn about the different types of Privacy Virtual Cards and other available features:

  1. Merchant-Locked Card—You can use this card with only one merchant. If a hacker manages to access these card numbers, they won’t be able to use them anywhere else.
  2. Single-Use Card—You can use this card only once. It closes shortly after the first transaction is completed, becoming useless to potential hackers.
  3. Pausing/closing—Pause or close a virtual card without impacting your bank account or debit card. Once you do, all further transactions will be declined, preventing any unwarranted charges from merchants and subscription services.
  4. Spending limits—If you set spending limits on your virtual cards, Privacy will decline all exceeding charges. Limits can help you with budget management and ensure sneaky merchants can’t overcharge you.
  5. Mobile app—Privacy allows you to generate and manage virtual cards on the go, thanks to the Privacy mobile app for iOS and Android.

Privacy makes online payments not only safer but also faster and more seamless. With the Privacy browser extension, available for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge, you can have your virtual card details autofilled at checkout without having to reach for your wallet or memorize card numbers. If you own an iPad or iPhone, you can get the Safari iOS extension to enjoy streamlined checkouts on the go.

How To Start Using Privacy

A photo of an unlocked padlock sitting atop scrambled keyboard keys
Source: FLY:D

To give Privacy a try, all you need to do is:

  1. Sign up
  2. Provide the details for verifying your identity
  3. Link your debit card or bank account
  4. Request Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy gives you three pricing options. The base plan is free for domestic purchases and allows you to generate 12 virtual cards a month, gives you access to the browser extension and mobile app, and includes all card controls mentioned above.

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
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