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ONLINE SHOPPING – DOS AND DON’TS

“I really don’t fancy this online stuff – I would much rather touch the clothes and see the food items inside the actual store. But then there are others who prefer buying online as it seems so quick and easy.”

At this stage, in South Africa, about 22% of all Internet users have made online purchases.

An EFT payment gateway start-up company in South Africa enables users to make secure EFT payments at less cost compared to the credit card charges most banks charge. This is something that draws Internet users to go and do online shopping. According to the Online Retail in South Africa 2016 Report (World Wide Worx), South African online shopping was valued at about R9 billion, and this is estimated to double by 2020. As South Africans increasingly engage with online shopping, it makes sense that they should be alerted to the dangers of cybercrime. Having said that, online shoppers also need to know that online shopping can be quite a safe way of certain buying items, as long as they pay attention to following dos and don’ts.

ORDERING ITEMS ONLINE:

ARE THE GOODS DESCRIBED WELL ENOUGH?

The online user is shopping online for the very reason that he or she does not have the time to go to the shops and feel, see and touch all the items required. So the online shop needs to provide clear pictures of each item from various angles.

AVOID BUYING FOOD ITEMS ONLINE

Many online shops make all sorts of claims about, for instance, their organic food items, but their authenticity can only really be tested once you can personally examine the actual food item. If you are going to buy health foods, then make sure you go to those sites that have a good reputation.

SHOULD YOU COMPARE OFFERS MADE BY DIFFERENT WEBSITES?

When you spot an item at a discounted price, remember to compare the price of this item to identical or similar items on some other websites or online shops, so that you can get a “feel” of what the products cost.

PAY USING “COD” FOR THE ITEM ORDERED

Cash-on-delivery (“COD”) is the best way to pay when you have ordered an item online, because you get to see the goods before you pay.4 However, be warned that online shops may not allow you to open the package before you pay and some do not offer a COD option.

SHIPPING OR DELIVERY CHARGES

Abandon any purchases when no information is given on how much the shipping fees are. How will you know how much you’ll be charged? This information should be easy to get from an online store that is genuine.

WILL YOU RECEIVE THE ORDERED ITEM ON TIME?

This is one of the greatest fears of many South Africa Internet users – will the item ordered online get to my home on time? Only work with a reliable, well-known courier company, find out about their delivery timelines, and check their websites.

ADDITIONAL THINGS TO DO WHEN BUYING AN ITEM

  • Ensure that the text description of the goods matches the actual picture of the item.
  • Never provide a deposit on goods.
  • If a physical address is provided from where you can collect the items, make sure, using Google maps that the address is not false and is in an area you feel comfortable to go to.
  • Rather meet the seller in a secure place such as bank which is a public and busy place but also where you can then withdraw the amount of cash required instead of carrying it around with you.
  • Check the identity of the seller by asking for a copy of the individual’s ID book.
  • Carefully check the item as soon as it arrives.

WHAT MUST YOU DO WHEN SELLING AN ITEM?

  • When you receive a payment via SMS, contact the bank to verify the transaction.
  • Meet the buyer in a public place such as the bank.
  • Do not do business with buyers (and sellers) outside South Africa or exercise extreme caution if you decide to do so.

OBSERVING CYBER SECURITY AND ONLINE SHOPPING:

WHAT ABOUT ONLINE SHOPPING REVIEWS?

Try and get hold of online shopping reviews, which should tell you which websites are reputable, and so on.

ORGANISED WEBSITES

Go for websites that are well organised, with all their items clearly categorized You will most likely leave the website in a hurry if you have to struggle to find what you are looking for.

GOOD COMMUNICATION

Deal with only those websites that not only provide telephone assistance to online shoppers, but also provide an efficient and quick email service. If you are not sure about an online shop, contact the customer service section of the online shop, and make sure how they deliver, as well as finding out about their sales and refund policies.

Also, remember to read the fine print, as there may be hidden conditions you need to be aware of.

SHOULD YOU SAVE THE URLS?

In order to avoid typing in the wrong address at any time, it is best to bookmark those addresses you have trusted the most. Check out each shopping site for good references from those who have already safely used them. You may find out from an online shopper that some online shops should be avoided because some of the items arrive without, for instance, a particular cable. It’s such a hassle to have to return the item. That is why it is also important to make sure of the return policy of a particular online shop, because you may also not like the product when it arrives. You then don’t want to find out that you can’t return it, and that you are now stuck with it. Some websites won’t refund your credit card, but will arrange for you to have credit with their store.

ONLY USE SECURE WEBSITES

This means you need to look out for the “lock” in the URL address. In addition, look out for valid certificates and secure payment systems. When you arrive at the page where you have to transact with credit card details, and make payments, make sure the address starts off as https:// and not http://. The extra “s” means there is a security capability that scrambles your information while entering it. Basically, all information flowing between the website and your browser is encrypted. Be really careful which websites you visit.

WHICH CARD MUST YOU USE WHEN PAYING?

Only use your credit card when making payments, and never your debit card. Debit cards are not protected by law in the same way that credit cards are. Make sure to check the credit card statements for any illegal transactions.9 Don’t use those websites that don’t request the three or four digit security code found on the back of your credit card. Does the website have a safe Visa Secure or Paypal mode?

MONITOR YOUR BANK STATEMENTS REGULARLY

Look out for any irregular transactions or incorrect charges made to your bank account.

WHICH EMAIL ADDRESS SHOULD YOU USE?

Preferably use an email address that is dedicated to online shopping. The reason for this is that your personal email address may get clogged up with promotional material, or worse, may get seriously hacked.

LOOK AFTER YOUR INFORMATION

As an online shopper, you must never keep any personal information, such as card or bank details on your computers, and never share such information when requested by websites.

WHERE SHOULD YOU SHOP ONLINE?

The last thing you should not do is to go and do online shopping from some Internet café in a shopping mall, for instance. It is easier for cybercriminals to obtain your usernames and passwords in a public Wi-Fi setup. Don’t use computers at hotels to make any transactions.

AVOID WEIRD EMAILS AND LINKS

The last thing you should not do is to go and do online shopping from some Internet café in a shopping mall, for instance. It is easier for cybercriminals to obtain your usernames and passwords in a public Wi-Fi setup. Don’t use computers at hotels to make any transactions.

AVOID WEIRD EMAILS AND LINKS

Criminals are expert at creating websites that look just like the real ones, and will construct emails containing fake links. Be very suspicious of deals that look ridiculously good. Even online advertisements can take you to fraudulent websites, which, in turn, can infect your computer with malware. To avoid any problems, type in the email address yourself.

ARE BROWSER UPDATES NECESSARY?

Do updates constantly – this may be a little frustrating, but at least they will protect you.

USE ROBUST PASSWORDS

What you must avoid using is a simple password that can be easily hacked. Use rather an 8-digit password, with upper case letters, symbols and numbers being used together. This is exemplified by the fact that it would take a hacker about 10 minutes to crack a simple 6-letter password, but apparently 463 years to break into an 8-digit password.

SHOULD YOU USE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE?

Protect your computer with reputable antivirus software, such as from McAfee.

USE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION TECHNOLOGY

This is achieved using the OTP (one-time PIN). The two-factor authentication is when you require another type of authentication, besides the password. The OTP is usually received via SMS.

You don't have to be concerned about the complexities of online shopping with PMD's safe new online insurance purchase platform. Sign up for car insurance with no problems and no phone calls – unless you want to speak to someone of course.

USING PMD’S ONLINE PURCHASE INSURANCE PLATFORM TO BUY CAR INSURANCE PROVIDES GREAT BENEFITS

One of the wonderful benefits of using PMD’s online car insurance purchase platform when you want to buy car insurance online, is that you don’t have to speak to anyone (unless you want to) and you can do this at any time of the night or day. You can also customise the policy exactly as how you want it to be. The Platform designed by PMD also ensures that the whole process is quick and easy, but should you get stuck, there are audio and video materials available to assist you. However, should you want human assistance, there is a call-back facility available on the website.

Sources:

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