With advancement in technology, shopping today can be as easy as a click of a button in the comfort of your own home. However, that convenience also comes with risks which many aren’t aware of. Shopping online opens you to the risk of:
- Malware – exposing your computer to viruses
- Phishing – stealing of your personal information such as passwords and credit card details
- Hacking – gaining unauthorised access to your computer or online accounts to perform malicious activities
- Scams – getting cheated by unscrupulous sellers or fraudulent sites
Consequences of the above risks can be severe as important or confidential files on computers or smartphones can be stolen or wiped out by viruses. Others may pay a high price and are robbed of huge sums of money after having their banking details compromised.
Hence, it is important to pay attention to safety and security when performing online banking or transactions. Here is a comprehensive list of tips by TOUCH Cyber Wellness to keep you and your family safer when shopping and making transactions online.
- Install security tools (e.g. McAfee Internet Security or McAfee Total Protection) to filter out scammers, hackers and malware.
- When using shared or public computers, be careful not to leave personal information (e.g. credit card account number) where others may be able to access. In fact, it is best not to use public wireless networks to pay bills, bank, shop, or do other financial business as hackers can access your personal information by tapping into the open network. Also, refrain from storing personal information on personal laptops and internet devices for convenience sake. In the event of a theft, these will fall into the wrong hands.
- Before you enter sensitive data on a webpage, ensure that:
- The site uses encryption – a security measure that helps protect your data as it traverses the Internet. Signs of encryption include a web address with https (“s” stands for secure) and a closed padlock beside it. (The lock might also be in the lower right corner of the window.)
- You are at the correct website. For example, at your bank’s authentic site and not a fake one. If you are using Internet Explorer, one sign of trustworthiness is a green address bar like the one above.
- The site contains signs it is legitimate. For example, look for third-party seals of approval. Companies can put these seals on their sites if they abide by a set of rigorous standards, such as how personal information can be used. Two seals to look for are:
If you see the seals, click them to make sure they link to the organisation that created them. Some unscrupulous merchants will put these logos on their websites without permission.
- Also consider contacting the seller when making your first purchase. Most reputable e-retailers will have a toll-free customer service phone number. If the site has only an email address and no phone number, start an email or instant message dialogue with the people running the site, before you buy anything from them. Communicating with them may help you determine how legitimate or transparent a seller is.
- Use the right card. Try to use a credit card with fraud protection to make your online purchase. If you are using a debit card and your information is compromised, the hacker would have direct access to your bank account.
- Save a copy of online transactions and receipts in case of any post-purchase disputes. These contain important information such as the credit card used in the transaction, product description and price, and projected delivery date.
- It is important to read the return or refund policy, which should be found under terms and conditions. Remember to inspect the merchandise once it arrives.
Now that you are aware of the risks of online shopping and performing online transactions, consider taking the necessary precautions. Some of these precautions may seem inconvenient at first but they could potentially save you a lot of grief and money.
TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW) is a pioneer and leading non-profit agency that champions cyber wellness and media literacy education in Singapore. Since 2001, TCW has reached more than 320 schools and one million youths, parents, educators and counsellors through its education, advocacy and intervention efforts.
Want to know more on the latest online trends that may be affecting your child? Need to speak with an expert on your child’s mobile device usage habits? Get in touch with TOUCH Cyber Wellness here!
For more articles on cyber wellness, check out notAnoobie.online, an online cyber wellness resource for parents by TOUCH Cyber Wellness and Singtel.