Category Risk Management

Five practical ways to ensure you don’t become a victim of cyber fraud this festive season

01 December 2015 Evert Smith, Deloitte
Evert Smith from Deloitte.

Evert Smith from Deloitte.

With millions of South Africans preparing to log on to do their shopping this festive season, gangs of cyber criminals are lying in wait to spoil the party by infiltrating networks and stealing money and identities. But you need not become one of the victims if you employ a pre-emptive practical strategy to mitigate the risks.

According to Deloitte research, while consumers prefer the in-store shopping experience over online, nearly three-fourths of shoppers still intend to do some form of online research prior to making in-store purchases.

Research house Ipsos, says around 50% of African consumers are expected to have access to the internet by 2025 - a trend which will be driven by increased internet penetration. And while e-commerce penetration in South Africa is still relatively low by global standards, the number of online shoppers is expected to nearly triple in South Africa, making the country a significant e-commerce opportunity in the continent.

Evert Smith from Deloitte cautions that while these trends are very positive, online theft will grow in tandem with these developments if left unchecked.

“Many people are often totally oblivious that they have been scammed due to the sophistication of some of the tactics being used. But in many cases it is often just a matter of a user not having updated their security software, or that they use outdated software that had security flaws which have since been improved in an updated version,” he says.

According to Mr Smith, online shoppers should take as many pre-emptive steps as possible to reduce risks – and many of these are quite practical things that virtually anyone can do.

“It may sound elementary, but you should only buy from reputable online stores. Do some research on freely available sites like Hellopeter and Mybroadband and make sure what the site offers can actually be delivered. You know the saying: If it is too good to be true…,” he says.

Shoppers should also take the time to read the terms and conditions about returns and refunds very carefully. “Make sure you have some re-course and before you commit to pay or render personal details, make sure the page on which you are filling in the details is secure i.e. https:// is enabled,” says Mr Smith.

And where possible, a “burner card” or virtual credit card should be used. There are several traveller type cards that can be loaded with funds and only used for online purchases. If the card details are stolen or hacked, the only losses incurred are on that card and not your whole bank account.

Another practical tip is to not shop from an unknown computer or mobile device. “You never know who might be grabbing your user and account details without you knowing it,” cautions Mr Smith. 

He says that while there are many more things people can do from a security perspective – like employing specialists to drive anti-fraud strategies -  the five simple tips mentioned above are easy to do for most people.

“More and more people are deciding to benefit from the convenience, accessibility and rewards on offer in the growing and increasingly popular online shopping space. However, they should not rush in with their eyes closed either,” concludes Mr Smith.

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