Is Wish Safe for Debit Cards? Exploring Wish’s User Protection Measures

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Nov 22, 2023
 • 
10
 Min Read

Despite its popularity declining over the last few years, Wish still stands strong in 2023 with over 12 million users and 250,000 sellers. Since its launch in 2011, this online marketplace has attracted widespread attention—mostly for its considerably low prices but also concerns regarding its customer service and the quality of its products.

This article aims to explore measures Wish employs to protect your sensitive data and help you make an informed decision about shopping on this popular e-commerce website. You can learn the answers to the following common questions:

  • How does Wish work?
  • Which security measures does Wish employ?
  • Is Wish safe for debit cards?
  • What can you do to fortify the security of your sensitive data on Wish?

How Does Wish Work? Main Characteristics of the Popular E-Commerce Platform

Wish is an e-commerce platform and app that operates similarly to AliExpress and eBay, letting its users purchase items directly from sellers. Customers can find a broad range of products on Wish at astonishingly low prices. Some of the accepted payment methods include:

Affordable prices are the primary reason behind Wish's success. The company manages to keep them low due to several reasons:


No Physical Stores As sellers ship items from the warehouses in China directly to consumers, Wish doesn’t need to invest in maintaining physical stores.
Quality of Items Since sellers sell items directly to consumers, Wish may not be able to impose strict quality control. Some users have complained about the poor quality of their orders and receiving items that break easily or don’t work at all. In 2021, Wish made progress in this regard and announced its efforts to improve the company’s product quality control practices[6].
Shipping Despite the favorable shipping subsidy ending in 2020, the costs of shipping from China are still typically low. The issue is that the usual delivery time is around three to four weeks, with some customers having to wait even longer. Users who want a faster delivery can pay for express shipping or potentially pick up the item in person soon after ordering, as Wish has started collaborating with local small businesses to enable this possibility. The company has also shared in 2022 that it’s working toward improving delivery times to about 15 days[7].

How Wish Handles Privacy and Security

When creating an account on Wish, you have to provide your name and email address. Wish may also track your IP address, location, social media information, and usage data[1]. The company collects this information to provide and improve its services, but in its Privacy Policy, Wish claims to keep it only as long as necessary and share it only with select parties[1].

A photo of a person browsing an online clothing store on their smartphone
Source: cottonbro studio

Wish claims it never stores cardholder information[1] but rather forwards it directly to payment service providers. The company complies with applicable Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards, employing standard organizational and technical precautions to protect sensitive data[2].

When signing up, Wish recommends setting a robust, unique password consisting of letters, numbers, and unique characters and never reusing it on other websites[3]. It also advises updating the password regularly[3]. In some cases, Wish may request an additional account authentication step[4] before letting you access your account. If you notice suspicious activity, such as an unsolicited order confirmation email, you should contact Wish’s support immediately.

Wish also has policies in place to protect customers against order issues. In case the item doesn’t arrive within the specified period and is damaged or faulty, you may be able to receive a refund. You have 30 days upon delivery of the item to file the refund request[5].

Is Wish Safe for Debit Cards? 

Although Wish has various measures in place to protect your data, complete safety is never guaranteed. Fraudsters are constantly finding new ways to obtain financial information for personal gain. They may:

  1. Break into Wish’s servers—Hackers can get access to servers and sensitive data by exploiting vulnerabilities in security systems or Wi-Fi networks.
  2. Hack into user accounts—By using dictionary, brute force, and other attacks, fraudsters can guess or figure out your password and take over your account. Once they’re in, fraudsters can acquire more sensitive data, such as your home addresses and payment details. They may also change settings to hide their wrongdoings or make it more difficult for you to retrieve your account.
  3. Use social engineering (phishing)—Fraudsters can obtain sensitive information by posing as a legitimate individual or business like Wish and convince you to perform a specific action, such as providing debit card information or downloading a virus-ridden file. Phishing messages often start with an impersonal greeting, demand you to perform an urgent action, and contain grammatical or spelling errors. With the rise of AI, phishing attacks have become more sophisticated and hard to recognize, so it is paramount to remain vigilant and double-check every received message before providing any sensitive information or performing any action.


After stealing the debit card data, cybercriminals can sell it on the dark web or use it to make fraudulent purchases. 

The good news is that both debit and credit cardholders enjoy protection by law and by the card issuer.

A photo of a person sitting at a laptop with a payment card and cash next to them
Source: Sora Shimazaki

Card Fraud Protection Laws

Consumer debit and credit cards are regulated by different laws, with credit card users enjoying slightly more favorable terms in case of fraud. Both laws generally limit the victim’s liability to $50, but credit cardholders have 60 days to report the unauthorized transaction, whereas debit cardholders have two days to report it if they want to avoid all responsibility for fraudulent purchases (or 60 days for a maximum $500 liability). 

Many issuers, including Chase®, Bank of America®, and Wells Fargo®, also have zero-liability policies that absolve the victim of any financial responsibility in case of fraud.

Although Wish hasn’t had any publicly known data breaches or similar security-related incidents, you should exercise caution when shopping with any online merchant. The law may limit your financial liability for unauthorized charges, but it can’t spare you from the tedious dispute filing and card replacement process. Ideally, you should take necessary measures to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.

For instance, you should set strong passwords for all your accounts and toggle on transaction notifications within your banking app. You should also be careful when and to whom you’re giving away your sensitive information. However, the most effective way to keep your financial information safe when shopping online is by using virtual cards.

A close-up photo of a locked padlock sitting on a laptop keyboard
Source: FLY:D

How Virtual Cards Can Safeguard Your Wish Transactions

Virtual cards are the most reliable protection measure when shopping on Wish, as well as any other website. These cards are connected to a real funding source, such as a debit card, credit line, or bank account, but mask this information with randomly generated numbers, adding an extra layer of safety to your transactions. If Wish or any other merchant ever suffers a data breach, the perpetrators won’t be able to access your actual card or bank account details.

Although some banks offer virtual cards to their customers, an independent virtual card provider like Privacy provides more features and customization options and keeps security top of mind.

Privacy Virtual Cards—Security Comes First

If you’re worried about your security on Wish, AliExpress, Shein, or any other e-commerce website, link your debit card or bank account to Privacy Virtual Cards and secure your transactions. You can use Privacy Cards anywhere U.S. Visa or Mastercard cards are accepted.

Privacy abides by the same PCI security standards as any reliable bank and is accredited by the Better Business Bureau® for its remarkable customer service and ethical business practices. With security measures such as two-factor authentication, transaction alerts, transaction monitoring, and regular third-party security audits, your data enjoys robust protection.

A photo of a miniature shopping cart filled with banknotes and standing next to a laptop
Source: Karolina Grabowska

Privacy—Card Controls and Seamless Checkouts

Privacy Virtual Cards come in two variants. Learn about their use cases and benefits in the table below:


Card Type How It Works How It Protects You What It’s Suitable For
Single-Use This card closes minutes after the first transaction is completed. Since the card becomes invalid quickly after the first purchase, it won’t be of much use to potential hackers. It’s ideal for websites you plan to visit only once or whose reliability you’re not sure of.
Merchant-Locked This card “locks” to the first merchant you use it at. If the hackers manage to steal the virtual card number, they won’t be able to use it anywhere else. It’s ideal for subscription services and other recurring payments.

Privacy also allows you to:

  • Pause and close virtual cards—You can pause or close virtual cards without affecting your bank account or debit card. By doing so, you can prevent unauthorized charges, such as those from unwanted subscription services. Privacy will decline the charges while you have to cancel the subscription with the merchant. 
  • Set spending limits—Spending limits help you stick to your budget and control how much merchants can charge you.
  • Check out quickly and seamlessly—Privacy’s browser extension autofills virtual card details at checkout, so you don’t have to reach for your wallet every time you shop online. The extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. You can also download the Safari extension for iOS, which enables faster checkouts if you’re an iPhone or iPad user.
  • Use the service on the go—Get the Privacy mobile app for iOS or Android to create and manage cards on the go, as well as keep track of your account activity wherever you are.

How To Set Up Privacy in Four Simple Steps

To see Privacy in action, all you need to do is:

  1. Sign up
  2. Enter the details needed to verify your identity
  3. Add a funding source (bank account or debit card)
  4. Request Privacy Virtual Cards


The service is available to U.S. residents over 18 with a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union. 

Privacy has three pricing plans, including the Personal plan that is free for domestic purchases and comes with:

  • 12 virtual cards a month
  • Access to the web and mobile app and browser extensions for desktop and mobile
  • Card pausing and closing feature
  • Spending limits

With the two paid plans, you can get up to 60 virtual cards a month and benefits such as priority support and no foreign transaction fees.

References

[1] Wish, https://www.wish.com/privacy_policy, sourced October 2023
[2] Wish,, https://cs-help.wish.com/hc/en-us/articles/360028374711-Payment-Method-FAQ-s, sourced October 2023
[3] Wish, https://cs-help.wish.com/hc/en-us/articles/360041352454-Account-Security-FAQ-s-, sourced October 2023
[4] Wish, https://cs-help.wish.com/hc/en-us/articles/360048645874-What-if-I-m-having-trouble-authenticating-my-account-, sourced October 2023
[5] Wish, https://cs-help.wish.com/hc/en-us/articles/360026664774-What-is-Wish-s-refund-policy-, sourced October 2023
[6] Wish. https://ir.wish.com/news-releases/news-release-details/wish-announces-bold-steps-improve-product-quality-along-greater, sourced October 2023
[7] Wish. https://blog.wish.com/wish-shipping-updates#:~:text=That's%20why%20we're%20excited,%2C%20Great%20Britain%2C%20and%20Italy., sourced October 2023
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