It’s convenient, offers a wide range of choice and, when done with the right e-tailers, it’s reliable. But is online shopping always safe? Cyber criminals, just like pick pockets, can be found where the crowds are – so with the festive season around the corner and more people opting for their computers over the mall, here are the top online shopping safety tips to observe in order to keep your transactions safe and secure.
Risk: Password hack
Precaution: Ensure your passwords are as complicated as possible. We all suffer from a touch of ‘password fatigue’ these days, tired of having to remember them all and which one goes where – but it’s well worth the inconvenience. According to online payment service provider PayU, you should never be lazy with your passwords. Always include numbers, symbols and at least eight characters. Don’t choose obvious names or dates, never share your password with anyone and use different passwords for each site.
Risk: Fraudulent website
Precaution: Safe online shopping sites are generally well-known and popular. If you are using a lesser-known site for the first time, check that it’s secure by looking for the padlock and https: (rather than http:) at the beginning of the URL. When the ‘s’ is present it means the website employs SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to encrypt information that they receive from you, such as your login and credit card details. Google the site and look for other users’ feedback and comments. And always remember the golden rule: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Risk: Using public WiFi
Precaution: Public WiFi is everywhere these days to make our lives more convenient. There are two types – secured and unsecured. Online security company Norton warns not to access personal bank accounts or make any online purchases when connected to public networks, secured or unsecured. Public hotspots can be hacked easily and your personal information can be re-routed.
Risk: Phishing, smishing and vishing
Precaution: Fraudsters are extremely good at creating exact replica sites, emailers and telephone calls designed to trick people into revealing personal sensitive information. Phishing is a scam delivered via email. It will look legitimate and request you click through to update or verify information. Smishing comes via text message, where you could be asked to click on a link to verify information. Vishing is where you receive a phone call that lures you into divulging personal information to an automated system. Don’t ever click a link in an email, SMS or any other electronic communication and fill in your banking details, even if it seems like it is from SARS or your bank. If you are worried you might have fallen prey to a scam, contact your bank immediately. Should you become the victim of internet fraud, Budget Insurance Legal Cover offers advice and representation, as well as unlimited cover and assistance with regards to identity theft.
Risk: Hacked account
Precaution: Don’t wait for your bill to arrive each month. Rather go online and check your bank accounts regularly throughout the holiday season. Check every transaction carefully and if you see something wrong or suspicious, phone your bank immediately and report it. Don’t pay your credit card bill until you’ve checked it thoroughly and you know that it’s accurate and correct.
Risk: Malware infection
Precaution: Malware is short for ‘malicious software’ designed to infect a computer in a number of ways. It can take the form of codes, scripts, content and even appear like real software, all of which you may click on or download unwittingly. One form of malware, known as spyware, is so named because it collects personal information, like your credit and debit card numbers, and transfers them back to the criminals. Personal vigilance and protective software are two ways to prevent malware from infecting your computer. A good antivirus software package is a must.
Budget Insurance Company is an authorised financial services provider with FSP number 18178.