9 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

The internet and smart phones have provided us with new ways of doing all those mundane tasks that we used to have to leave our comfy couches to do. Banking, eating-out, working, socialising and even shopping can be done within a few taps of your screen. Online shopping provides us with a plethora of PAW-SOME deals (see what we did there) that can conveniently be delivered right to our doors. Well set-up and managed e-commerce sites have made sure that shopping has never been easier. They offer their customers a secure environment and payment gateway, as well as fast shipping and an effortless returns processes.In the age of COVID, it's a far safer alternative to going out, even if you're wearing a hazmat suit! 

Of course, with new opportunities there are always going to be bad guys. According to the First National Baks Fraud department the number one reported cybercrime relates to online shopping; and involves either non-payment for or non-deliver of goods. 

WAIT WHAT…WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Firstly, stay calm, most online stores are not out to steal your hard-earned money. Secondly, these criminals should not keep you from shopping online in your jammies. To protect yourself you simply need to use some common sense and follow practical advice. We have put some basic guidelines together; use them and you can shop with confidence.

Use Familiar Websites with Common Top-Level Domain Names.

Start with a trusted site. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of google.Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain then the norm.

What’s a top-level domain name you, may ask? It’s the phrase at the end of the web address “.co.za” is most commonly used for website hosted in South Africa. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, so make sure you are on the correct site before making any purchases.

Look for the Lock.

Never buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn't have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You'll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS, instead of just HTTP.  An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically to the left of the URL in the address bar in your web browsers.

Too Much Information…Don't Overshare.

When shopping online, give only the information that’s is needed by the e-tailer to render their service. Never give more than what is necessary. The more information the crooks have the easier it is to steal your identity.
 

 

Blur Yourself Online with Alternative Payment Methods.

When shopping online, use alternative payment methods like a virtual card instead of your physical credit card. Nowdays all the major banks offer a virtual credit card or some sort of payment alternative.

In South Africa there are a number 3rd party payment options available on most online store, these include Zapper, SnapScan, YOCO easy payments, the options are endless and secure.

 

Create Strong Passwords.

27% of online shoppers change their password a few times a year, with the majority never changing it at all. It's extremely important to have a strong password when interacting online, as the saying goes “if you’re using PASSWORD as your password, you’re doing it wrong”. Use the following tips to create a strong password:

  • Make It Poetic
  • Use a Pass-phrase (a sentence-like string of words)
  • Longer Passwords Are Better Passwords

Our top tip use a password manager, these tools create uncrackable passwords for you and it will keep track of them and enter them, so you don't have to think about it. 

 

Check Your Bank Statements Regularly

Don't wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly, especially during the holiday season, to view electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and chequing accounts.

Our top tip: should only buy online with a credit card or payment alternative, if your debit card is compromised, the “crims” have direct access to your bank funds.

If you see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly,. We recommend canceling your cards immediately and contact your bank’s fraud department. Reputable e-tailers will never ask for OTP’s or other sensitive banking information.

Avoid Shopping in Public

When using your laptop to shop while you're out at your local Mugg & Bean or Seattle Coffee, entering your details and CVV number in the middle of the restaurant is not the best idea. There are plenty of over-the-shoulder snoopers ready to get all that info. If you must shop out in public, you've got to think like a gangster. Sit in the back, facing the door. Use sites that you trust that already have your credit card stored, so you don't have to pull it out for more than that cuppa.

Our top tip: Do all your shopping at home form bed preferably in your jammies or under a blankie.

 

Think Mobile

There's no real need to be any more nervous about shopping on a mobile device than on the computer. In fact, it’s a lot safer as mobile phones are a lot harder to hack then laptops or desktops. Where possible use shopping apps to make all online purchases. If the store doesn’t have an app doesn’t mean they are unsafe. Most e-tailers web site are geared for mobile. Just keep in mind of your surroundings and make sure your information stays private.

Complement and Complain Loud and Proud

It is important that you complement great service, most e-tailers relay on positive reviews to encourage new customers to buy their goods and services, so if you are happy with the service you have received. It’s important to shout it from the roof tops. Our top tip is you post a review on the e-tailers Google or Facebook page as it lets other prospective buyers know that a certain site is not a bunch of scammers.

If you have unfortunately been taken for a ride don't be embarrassed, we have all fallen victim to the “deal of a lifetime”. Don’t panic, contact the seller or website and if you don’t get satisfaction. There are several sites like Hello Peter where you can report issue. Our top tip is to get hold of the sites pay-gate as they usually have information about the directors and the company. 

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