10 tips for keeping your online shopping safe this festive season

Christmas present

Christmas present

‘Tis the season to be jolly careful when it comes to online shopping…

South Africa sits in third place as one of the leading cybercrime hotspots in the world according to the Norton Cybercrime Report 2013. Then a Columinate Survey that examined trends in online banking from 2012 to 2014 found that one in five online bankers have been a victim of fraud and that 62% have been targeted at some point over the past two years. Add to this a pile of statistics from notable security institutions such as Norton, Trustwave and Kaspersky which point to poorly educated and prepared consumers — some of whom still use the password 1234 — and the result is rich pickings for the cybercriminal.

This year online fraudsters look set to really up their game so here’s a list of the most common threats and the best tips for avoiding them, giving consumers the tools they need to have a crime-free Christmas.

What to look out for:

1. Phishing and spoofing: consumers receive an email asking them to log into their bank account. The link in the email takes them to a fake website which logs their information and sends it to fraudsters.
2. Identity Theft: ID numbers, passport details, addresses and dates of birth used to open fake bank accounts or shopping carts placing the user’s identity in debt and crashing their credit records for years.
3. Social Engineering: online fraudsters get to know users through social media or in person and trick them into handing over personal details that can be used to hack accounts.
4. Hacking and viruses/spyware: users can download spyware by clicking on an attachment in an official-looking email or by downloading files and apps without being sure of their source.
5. Scams: Malware-filled apps, fake eCard sites, fake travel agencies, fake online adverts and even fake charities abound over Christmas.

10 ways to walk away from becoming a victim:

1. Stay informed

Most South African banks and payment organisations, such as PayU, have lists of the latest phishing, spyware and spoofing scams that use their logos to fool users into believing they are real, visit their sites and stay informed.

2. Always check the URL

If you are logging into your account through a link sent in an email and the URL says anything other than “https://” followed by the name of the site, then it is likely the site is a spoof and your every detail is being recorded by someone else.

3. Install security software

A well-designed security software solution will block suspicious websites, emails and downloads, adding an extra layer of protection and potentially blocking most types of phishing emails.

4. Research the site

If nobody has heard of the organisation that you are thinking of spending money with, then it is likely the site is a front for something more sinister.

5. Check the URL twice – does it say http or https?

The latter is secure, the former is not. Don’t enter credit card details unless your URL says https or there is a Thawte/Verisign, or ven better, the 3D secure, PCI DSS logo on the page.

6. Use reputable payment solutions

A really good payments solution will https protection and is built to keep consumer details secure.

7. Don’t click on links in emails, rather visit the site directly or give the business a call

Most emails demanding payment, threatening legal action or pressing any of the usual alarm buttons are fakes designed to shock users so they panic, click through to the site and enter in their login details.

8. Use complex passwords on all devices and for all online accounts

Never use a birthday, child’s name or an address and consider using a password protection service such as LastPass for an extra layer of security.

9. Don’t hand out account login details over the phone

If the bank or business calls, get their number and call them back or visit in person.

10. Stay aware

Check bank statements regularly to make sure there are no suspicious transactions, stay up to date on the latest news around online scams and only enter credit card details into reputable online payment solutions that have secure software in place, and consumer protection.



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