Shopping online takes some of the stress out of Christmas – no queues, no sore feet from traipsing around the malls, no crying kids and grumpy husbands hurrying you along. Plus you’ll find great deals online to take advantage of from the comfort of your couch. Unfortunately, online shopping also opens you up to the risk of fraudsters looking for opportunities to access your finances. Financial services group Santam offers these 10 top tips to stay safe while you’re shopping on the web:
1. Only connect to WI-FI you trust
Public Wi-Fi, in coffee shops for example, comes with a higher risk than using Wi-Fi at home. It gives fraudsters more
opportunity to intercept your connection and obtain your passwords and usernames.
2. Use strong passwords
Stay away from names and birthdays or anything that could be guessed. Create passwords that are at least eight digits long with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
Did you know? A simple six-letter password takes a hacker only 10 minutes to crack, while a strong eight-letter
password would take them roughly 463 years.
3. Bookmark your trusted shopping sites
Avoid typing in the wrong address and ending up on a fraudulent website by saving your trusted sites to your browser. If you aren’t sure which sites are safe, ask for recommendations from friends and family, and read online reviews to find out whether other customers experienced professional, safe service.
4. Be wary of strange email and links
Fraudsters are well practised at creating links that look legitimate, so be careful if you receive a link in an email, even if it seems to be from a trusted site at first glance. Follow the old adage ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. As well as links received via email, certain online ads on social media sites might take you to fake websites that could infect your system with malware. Avoid clicking on anything you’re unsure of, and never send emails that contain personal information like your card number. Rather supply those details over the phone.
5. Look for the lock
Make transactions only on secure sites, which are identifiable by the presence of a lock image on the toolbar, valid certificates like VeriSign, and secure payment systems like PayPal. Before typing in your credit card details, make
sure the web address begins with https:// as the ‘s’ after the ‘http’ signals a security measure – the encryption scrambles your data as you enter it.
6. Choose string antivirus software
Use high quality antivirus software. This could be from your bank or from reputable providers like McAfee and Kaspersky Lab.
7. Keep your browser updated
Constant updates can be a little annoying, but they’re necessary for online safety. Regularly run system and app updates to lower your risk of being hacked.
8. Use two-factor authentication methods
Two-factor authentication refers to having to input a second type of verification in addition to your password, before a transaction can be completed. The most common type is a one-time pin (OTP), which is usually received as an SMS to your phone. Technology like ‘Verified’ by VISA and MasterCard SecureCode protect both you and the merchant by verifying your personal details during online purchases.
9. Regularly check your bank statements
Go through your bank statements often to check for any unverified transactions and fraudulent charges to your account. If you notice something suspicious, enquire with your bank about the details of the transaction.
10. Teach your kids about online safety.
They might not have credit cards yet, but if you have a household of tablets and phones it’s a good idea to teach them safety habits. Remind your kids never to give out personal details over the phone and to be careful about clicking on links.
COMPILED BY CAITLIN GENG PHOTOS: STOCK.ADOBE.COM