Sales from Alibaba’s Singles Day on 11 November hit a staggering $25.3 billion USD this year in 24 hours, more than 40% increase from the previous year. These statistics prove that the e-commerce industry has established a firm foothold and is growing exponentially across the globe. While the festive season may be a good time to find cheap deals, it also presents hackers and scammers the perfect opportunity to prey on unsuspecting shoppers. The Singapore Police Force reported a 26% year-on-year increase in online and e-commerce scams between July and September 2017.
Here are some measures you can take to shop online safely this holiday season.
1. Ensure the site has a good track record and protects its merchants and customers
Check the reputability of the site you are shopping on by checking reviews and ensuring trust seals are present and legitimate. Besides looking out for the site’s Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection, usually displayed as ‘https’ in the URL or as a lock symbol, verify the authenticity of the SSL certification. Ensure that it is issued from and to the right parties and that the certification date is valid by enabling your browser settings.
2. Be vigilant against phishing or bogus sites
Most consumers believe that larger, well-known sites are safer than the smaller ones. However, it is still best to check the legitimacy of a site each time you shop. Hackers can create fake sites which mimic popular sites, so make sure you are on the legitimate website by reviewing its URL.
3. Use only secured Wi-Fi networks when performing transactions
Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks when performing mobile and online banking or other financial transactions. Cyber attackers can capture information passing through unsecured Wi-Fi networks, including your bank credentials.
4. Do not leave your information online
After each online transaction, information such as passwords and credit card details are stored in the browser cache. If your device is infected with malware, it could allow cyber criminals to retrieve your information easily. To ensure your personal information does not end up in the wrong hands, always clear your browser cache.
5. Use a credit card as the payment method
Credit cards offer more protection than debit cards, and companies are able to do more to solve consumer issues raised, like fraudulent charges made to the card. Being protected by chargebacks that cover liability helps the banks and authorities take action in the case of fraud.
Also set email or SMS alerts for all online transactions so that you are notified when there is a transaction.
6. Enable 2FA for all online transactions
Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) for your online transactions and account logins gives you an added layer of protection. Having this in place will alert you to fraudulent transactions that are about to take place, giving you time to take the necessary actions.
By bearing these tips in mind, you can greatly reduce the possibility of becoming a victim to hackers and enjoy your online shopping experience with a peace of mind! If you believe you have fallen victim to an online scam or fraud, you may wish to do the following:
- Inform the bank of the fraudulent transaction(s) and request for a card replacement if necessary
- Lodge a police report
- Change your account credentials on the actual shopping website if you suspect that you might have entered them on a phishing website