Carte Blanche 2021 Slim Billboard Desktop 1600x160

Safer Online Shopping

12 July 2020
With convenience comes a few risks and the possibility of getting scammed out of your hard-earned money is possible. Even more so when you’re buying bigger, more expensive items such as furniture, appliances and even cars.

The ongoing national lockdown has forced many consumers to go online. From buying groceries to clothing items to gadgets – online has become the shopping method of choice during this time. However, with convenience comes a few risks and the possibility of getting scammed out of your hard-earned money is possible. Even more so when you’re buying bigger, more expensive items such as furniture, appliances and even cars.

By simply being more cautious and adhering to the basics of safe online shopping, you lower your chances of getting duped.

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

  • Make use of familiar websites. If you haven’t heard of a particular site or company, rather ask family or friends whether they have used the site.  
  • Do you research! Read up on the company before you buy. Most online shopping sites have several reviews from previous users which could give you a good indication as to whether to make use of a specific online store.
  • Check the facts. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Use two-factor authentication where possible. 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.
  • 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.
  • Beware rock-bottom prices. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should rather look elsewhere.
  • 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: McAfee SA | Facebook Marketplace