Online shopping in South Africa is booming, and as Black Friday and the Festive Season nears, many of us will be looking to buy those ‘must have’ bargains and perfect gifts online. Unfortunately, cyber criminals will also be active, creating fake shopping websites and other online shopping scams to steal your information and hard-earned money.
Don’t become a statistic – below are some tips on how you can find good deals without becoming a victim.
Beware of fake online stores - criminals create fake online stores that mimic the look of real sites or use the names of well-known stores or brands. Be suspicious if a site looks like one you've used in the past, but the website domain name or the name of the store is slightly different.
Where possible, purchase from online stores you already know, trust, and have done business with previously. Bookmark these online stores in your favourite web browser to avoid typing in the wrong URL.
Only transact on secure websites – look for the lock image on the toolbar.
Be wary of websites that use personal email addresses or have no contact details.
Type the name of the online store or its web address into a search engine to read what others have said about it. Look out for terms such as ‘fraud’, ‘scam’, ‘never again’ or ‘fake’.
Be skeptical of ads or promotions on search engines or social media platforms that are significantly lower than those you see at the established online stores - if a deal seems too good to be true, it may be a scam.
Keep your guard up even when shopping on trusted websites. Online stores often offer products sold by 3rd parties that might have fraudulent intentions. Check each seller's reputation before placing the order by reading their reviews.
Don’t do your shopping in coffee shops and malls. With public Wi-Fi, there’s a bigger chance for fraudsters to intercept your connection and get hold of your usernames and passwords.
Protect your online accounts by using unique, strong passwords for each of your accounts. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords, consider storing them all in a password manager.
Regularly review your credit card statements to identify suspicious charges. If possible, enable the option to be notified by your bank when a charge is made.
Remember, even if an online store looks professional, it doesn’t always mean it's legitimate. If you are unsure of the website, don't use it! Rather head to a well-known site you can trust - you might not get that incredible deal, but you are much more likely to avoid getting scammed.