It is that time of the year again where consumers are preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To avoid long queues and the hassle of getting to the shops, more consumers are now opting for online shopping. It is reported that 45 percent of digitally connected consumers in South Africa claim to have bought products online in 2017, information security fears remain one of the major concerns and barriers for potential online shoppers. Online purchases surge during seasonal promotions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it is important that customers know how to keep safe online.
“Online shopping has changed the consumer market exponentially by providing shoppers with access to more goods, greater choice and convenience. However, there is always a risk of cyber-crime and information safety when transacting online. Information security fears are well-founded and could potentially ruin any online shopping experience. Being alert to potential scams is vital in protecting yourself whilst enjoying your online shopping experience,” says Cowyk Fox, Managing Executive of Everyday Banking at Absa.
Fox shares 5 safety tips to protect yourself and minimise the risk of falling prey to cyber-crime and scams.
1.2FA (two-factor authentication) is more than just catchy jargon: it can save you from fraudulent transactions. 2FA is an authentication feature that allows users to monitor suspicious fraud transactions and ensures accounts can only be accessed on devices that you trust. This adds an extra layer of protection for you. Using 2FA also means that you’ll be alerted immediately if a transaction you haven’t authorised is about to take place. You can act immediately and save yourself from fraudulent activity.
2. Only shop on sites that are reputable and that you trust. This might sound obvious, but its importance cannot be underestimated. Double-check if the URL contains a padlock and that the ever-important ‘https’ is visible. The ‘s’ means the site is secure.
3. Ensure your virus protection software is up-to-date and don’t access online shopping sites from unsecured public Wi-Fi. Public networks like those used in hotels, coffee shops and restaurants are more vulnerable to hacking due to the number of people using the network. Always try to perform your online shopping on a secure, private network.
4. Know what the latest scams are so you don’t get caught out. Fraudsters have become seriously sophisticated, making their scams appear legitimate. Phishing typically looks like an email from your bank or a financial services provider containing links that take you to a malicious site, and prompt you to enter your personal details, which phishers then use to steal your money. Pharming is even more sophisticated because it redirects you automatically to a malicious site without having to click on an external link. This makes it harder to pick up but checking the URL for the ‘https’ is vital in ensuring that the site is secure. Absa customers can also look out for new security features and warnings available on the Absa internet banking website to keep abreast of ever-changing technology, new trends and scams.
5. Keep an eagle eye on your account so you can see if any unusual activity has taken place and if so, report it to your bank immediately. Vigilance is your best weapon, so use it. Check your statements and accounts regularly to make sure you’re the one spending your money. If you find any suspicious looking transactions, get hold of your bank straight away.