South Africans urged to be vigilant when shopping online

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South Africans have been urged to be more vigilant while doing their shopping online this festive season. According to the consumer credit reporting agency, TransUnion, cases related to holiday-season online shopping fraud in South Africa have shown a sharp increase of 6.5% compared to the same time last year.

Experts say the spike in online fraud can be attributed to more people shopping online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A study conducted by TransUnion last month on the holiday shopping season has found that 41% of the 1 100 South African consumers surveyed said that they had been targeted by digital fraudsters.

This is a 64% increase from the survey conducted in April this year.

“The South African Banking Risk Information Centre would like to warn online shoppers to be wary of bogus websites offering cheap holiday accommodation and air tickets this festive season. Criminals create these fake websites to steal personal or confidential information or to harvest banking details which are then used to commit fraud,” says South African Banking Risk Information Centre’s (SABRIC), Louise van der Merwe.

He says there are a number of things that consumers should look out for to make their online shopping experience safer.

“Only shop at reputable retailers and avoid unknown ones, even if their deals seem amazing. Do not share your card details on e-commerce sites and be sure to register for additional security that sends an OTP to your phone while making a payment. Never share your OTP with anyone while conducting a transaction. Even if the purchase goes through, it could still be a scam. So, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

FNB Head of Fraud, Trish Ramdhani, says online fraudsters are on top of their game and can make bogus sites look exactly like the real one. She says consumers should always make payments from a secure site.

“Do not click on links while shopping online, rather type in the website yourself. Ensure that you are transacting on a secure site with an https or the padlock. Register for your bank notifications. Always use a secure connection, and avoid public wifi. Only enter card details when finalising the purchase.”

Online gifting store, Netflorist’s Managing Director, Ryan Bacher, says they try their best to protect customers.

“From a safety point of view, we use what we call third party payment gateways or providers. It is quite safe. Most of our customers use credit cards to make payments and the credit card system online is now more advanced. Also, we do alternatives like eBucks, discovery points, and Standard Bank U points, and they are all managed by banks.”

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