July 25, 2016

With the increased dependence on the internet for daily activities such as shopping, banking transactions, and even the purchase of food stuff the internet has become the go to place for most of us. However, we have to be aware that online transactions are not entirely safe. Research has shown that fraud such as goods which never arrived, illicit payments via credit cards and identity theft could occur if we are not careful.
The essence of this article is to educate you on how to avoid falling victim to online fraudsters.

Here are five tips to avoid online scams:

1. Shop on only “Safe” Sites: You can know a website is safe by considering the following:
a. ) The web page URL

Shop on the sites with the address ‘https: //’ instead of ‘http: //’. The letter “s” means that sites are using a secured server and will protect your personal information from hackers.

b. ) Looking out for the “Lock” icon
The Lock icon is not just a picture! Click (or double-click) on it to see details of the site’s security. This is important to know because some fraudulent web sites are built with a bar at the bottom of the web page to imitate the lock icon of your browser! Therefore it is necessary to test the functionality built into this lock icon. It is also important to look out for the lock when you want to make payments online.

c. ) Further Indicators of a Secured Web Page;
Many SSL Certificate vendors (Verisign, GeoTrust,, etc.) also provide a “site seal” to the owners of these websites. Characteristics of these site seals are:

• Verification Functionality – The site seal should have some functionality whether by clicking on the seal or by hovering your mouse over the seal. The functionality should display detailed information about the web site you are visiting
• High Visibility – Online merchants want you to see these site seals. They want you to know they have made every effort to make their site a safe shopping experience. Therefore, the site seal is usually located where you, the customer, can easily see it.
• Difficult to Duplicate – The site seals are designed to be difficult for thieves and scammers to duplicate. Many times the site seal will have a date and time stamp on it.

2. Save Transaction Evidence

The importance of keeping your transaction evidence cannot be overemphasized. Proof of electronic payment such as the confirmation email, e-receipts, SMS, and others can help to record and track the history of your transaction. These can also be used as strong evidence if there is a dispute with the seller in the future. Do ensure that you keep evidence of all your purchase transactions, receipts, alerts etc.

3. Protect Your Debit/Credit Card

Good news is that debit or credit card theft can be prevented and stopped as soon as possible after the transaction has taken place.
Here are some ways to protect your credit card:

• Set SMS notifications on all your bank cards to ensure you get alerts of any transactions done. If there is a suspicious transaction, you may contact the bank’s Customer Service or Contact Centre to ask for confirmation and to block transactions which lead to any hacking indications.
• Use One-Time Password (OTP), which is the password that will be sent to a personal mobile phone after an online transaction. OTP are usually generated when payment is being made on a mobile device and it also provides a layer of security to your bank card.
• Speak to your banker about setting a limit for the number and volume of transactions on your card in a certain time frame per day or week etc. This is so that transactions cannot be processed when it reaches a certain threshold.
• Check your Card statements often. Is there a transaction which you did not make but is listed in the monthly report? If yes, then contact your Customer Service or Contact Centre immediately.

4. Avoid Using Wi-Fi Internet when Accessing Personal Activity

Agreed, that free Wi-Fi can be very tempting especially when you are en route and you urgently require data to stay in touch with loved ones. However using free Wi-Fi for your online shopping or bank transactions is a faux pas as it would open opportunities for other people to access your private information.

5. Use Smart and Powerful Passwords

It is important to have a password that is strong because the password associated with yourself like your birthday, can be easily guessed by the people who know you or the hackers. Hackers generally guess and match your personal records word by word and letter by letter. Make sure you use numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters.

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