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16 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

News
16 May 2021
We spoke to the teams at Afrihost and the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) on ways you can better protect yourself against dodgy online retailers.
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With many South Africans spending more time from home following lengthy lockdowns last year, retailers have seen a dramatic increase in online shopping. From groceries to clothing to more pricey gadgets and appliances, South Africans have been spending much less time inside physical stores. While online shopping comes with a number of benefits – most notably convenience – it also brings with it a greater risk of being duped. We spoke to the teams at Afrihost and the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) on ways you can better protect yourself against dodgy online retailers.

BONUS TIP! The Facebook Marketplace has become a firm favourite among many shopaholics. You can find more safety tips specific to Facebook here.

 

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

If it isn’t a website you’ve used before, be more cautious. Check online for reviews and user feedback before parting with your money. If you find any alarming reports from clients, steer clear of the site.

SAFE PAYMENT

Avoid paying via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) since you cannot lodge a dispute or reverse the transaction should something go wrong. EFT payments are also less secure than your standard debit and credit card options. If an e-commerce site doesn’t offer any standard payment options aside from EFT, be careful.

DOUBLE-CHECK THE DETAILS

Many scammers often give unsuspecting buyers a fake address, name, and contact info. Do an independent check to determine everything is legit before committing to a sale. If it means having to drive out to the address they’ve provided, do it. If it’s too far, you can also check it out on Google maps, or ask a friend who lives nearby to go have a look on your behalf. Don’t simply take everything being said and promised at face value. It’s is also wise to do a reverse image search on Google to check if the items for sale, and the sellers, are what and who they say they are.

THAT OLD ADAGE

If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. We’ve heard this warning countless times, but when money is tight a shiny offer on an otherwise expensive item could be very tempting. However, in many instances the item simply doesn’t exist and you end up saving no money at all.

ASK AWAY

When speaking to a seller directly, don’t be shy to ask as many questions as possible. Find out why they’re selling the item, whether they have all the necessary papers, whether there’s any damage and any other questions that might come to mind. The more informed you are, the better.

LOOK FOR THE LOCK

Check whether there’s a little padlock next to the web address. This means the site is secure and has the relevant security certificates to ensure your personal information is encrypted and safe.

S IS FOR SECURE

Whenever you make a payment online, ensure the web address starts with “https” and not just “http”. The extra “s” indicates that any sensitive information (such as your credit card number or CSV code) will be scrambled once you submit it.

SHOP WHERE IT’S SAFE

It’s always better to shop online using your own internet connection. If you can, avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots since there’s a better chance of fraudsters intercepting your personal information, usernames and passwords over a less-secure connection.

CAREFUL WHAT YOU CLICK

Always go to the preferred online store directly instead of clicking on a link within an email or SMS. It’s also a good idea to bookmark the reliable sites you’ve used so you can easily access them the next time you want to shop.

PASSWORD POWER

Ensure you use strong passwords and change them every couple of months. If you struggle to remember your passwords, you can make use of a password manager.

BE ALERT

Check your bank statements on a regular basis to ensure no unauthorised transactions and/or charges are being processed on your account. Inform your bank of any suspicious transactions immediately and change all your passwords as well.

ANTIVIRUS IS YOUR FRIEND

There are several reliable and free antivirus options available and they can help protect you against any nasty viruses or spyware. Ensure you scan your computer regularly (at least once a month) for any threats and ensure your antivirus is updated.

TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

Whenever you log in to an online store, see if there’s an option to activate two-factor authentication. Once this is enabled, you will be asked to input a second pin that’s usually sent to you via SMS or email before you can log in or perform any transactions.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS

While they may not have a credit card, they can still make purchases on their mobile phones or tablets. Teach your children about in-app purchases and tell them to ask you before they click on any links. Also remind them to never give out any personal information online.

GET THE APP

When using apps to make purchases, make sure you download the app directly through the official retailer. If you’re not sure whether the app you’ve downloaded is the legitimate version, you can always contact the retailer for assistance.

PAPER TRAIL

Keep all your invoices, purchase confirmations and shipping and tracking numbers in a safe place. Should things go wrong, at least you would have the documents to prove you’ve made a purchase.

Sources: Afrihost | ISPA | McAfee SA | Facebook Marketplace