Online shopping safety: top tips

Online shopping offers an easy and convenient way to pick up the things you need. Read our safety tips to make sure you don’t fall victim to fraudsters!

The Internet has revolutionised shopping. If you can’t bear the thought of wandering around shopping malls or tackling the crowds at your local supermarket, online shopping offers an easy and convenient way to pick up the things you need – all without leaving the comfort of your couch. But it’s not without its pitfalls. Online shoppers are easy targets for hackers and fraudsters and, unless you do everything you can to keep your information safe, you could fall victim. Here are some top tips to keep your details confidential while cruising the virtual aisles:

·                Use sites you trust

Before buying something off a website you haven’t used before, read reviews online to find out whether others have had a positive shopping experience. Any complaints of fraudulent card transactions or undelivered goods are a clear sign to stay away.

·                Make sure the website is secure

This is easier to do than you might think. If a website is secure, it will have a lock icon and the word “Secure” in the toolbar. The website URL will also have an “s” after the “http”. “Https://” means that all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted and are therefore safe.

·                Create a complicated password

A six-letter password can be cracked by a hacker in just 10 minutes, which is pretty frightening. The longer and more complicated you make your password, the more secure your accounts are likely to be. Consider using a long word or even a phrase (without spaces) that you’ll easily remember, and intersperse it with capital letters, numbers and special characters.

·                Avoid public Wi-Fi networks

Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops or malls to make any large purchases and preferably don’t log into your internet banking either. These connections are easy to hack, and your usernames and passwords might be at risk.

·                Opt for two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication means that another method of verifying your transaction is used in addition to your password. It usually comes in the form of a one-time password, or OTP, that is sent to you via SMS or email. Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode are examples of this kind of technology.

·                Watch out for fraud on your accounts

No matter how careful you are, fraud is always a risk. Keep a close eye on your bank statements to make sure that there are no unauthorised transactions coming off your accounts. If you notice something suspicious, contact your bank’s fraud department straight away.

Always trust your instincts. If the site you’re on appears dated or untrustworthy in any way, if it bombards you with pop-ups, or if it asks you for information that you feel is too detailed or irrelevant, simply leave the site. You might be disappointed to leave a good deal behind, but doing so could save you heaps of financial trouble.


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