Avoid sharing your personal information - plus 5 other tips to fraud-proof your online shopping

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Woman shopping online while holding her bank card.
Woman shopping online while holding her bank card.

The end of the year is a time for most of us to let our hair down and spoil ourselves for the past months of hard work. Sadly, this is also a time when online scammers are hard at work coming up with new strategies of relieving you of your hard-earned money.

Ever had a transaction go through on your bank account while your card is nestled comfortably in your purse? Some of the most common scams criminals use to con online shoppers include deposit and refund scams, dating and romance scams, online gaming scams, classified/holiday scams, as well as puppy scams, where shoppers are conned into purchasing pups that don’t exist.

Criminals sure know how to tug at their victim’s heartstrings and will make use of social engineering tactics to do so. Remember that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Online shopping is often plagued by card-not-present (CNP) fraud.

“This is a fraudulent transaction where neither the card nor the cardholder is present whilst conducting the transactions,” explains South African Banking Risk Information Centre's (SABRIC) Susan Potgieter.

“From 2017 to 2018, CNP fraud on South African issued credit cards remained the leading contributor to gross fraud losses, accounting for 79.5 percent of all losses. CNP debit card fraud showed the greatest increase in losses at 62.3 percent, due to the enablement of CNP transactions on debit cards,” she continues.

A word of caution to those who have saved their card details on their personal devices, as a result of prior purchases — delete immediately as it creates unnecessary risk.

“Should a criminal get access to your card details — card number, name on the card, expiry date and the last three digits of the CVV number on the back — they will be able to make purchases using your card,” Potgieter warns.

READ MORE | 'I'd never felt so cheated, so defrauded in my life' - phishing, pyramid schemes and other scams to look out for

For an online shopping experience that won’t leave you anxious, she recommends the following:

1. Always ensure that your anti-virus software is installed. Check if it’s activated and update it regularly.

2. Always choose a strong password. It must be a combination of numbers and letters and be at least 16 characters long. Even better is the use of a ‘passphrase’ which is a short sentence or a string of random words which makes them long and more difficult to crack.

3. Use a different password for every account and change them regularly. Where possible, use password-generating software that creates complicated passwords.

4. Avoid sharing your personal information. Remember that online merchants don’t need your ID number or date of birth to make a purchase. Cybercriminals, however, need it to steal your identity.

5. Always check your bank balance after online shopping payments. Report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.

6. When shopping online using your card, ensure you only place orders on secure websites — do not compromise on this rule.

Don't miss our top stories, sign up to the TRUELOVE newsletters now!

Show Comments ()