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‘Black Friday’ is but a few days away and consumers are preparing to hit the online shopping strip. As with any increased spending period, consumers are urged to remain vigilant and alert when transacting at a point of sale or online. Just because you are in a festive and carefree mood, does not mean that criminals and fraudsters have taken the day off as well

With technology being at the forefront of everything we do lately, thousands of consumers opt for online shopping to avoid long queues at malls. Online shopping is one of the fastest-growing retail platforms in South Africa. It makes sense therefore to update and familiarise oneself with the necessary safety features and measures while shopping. After all, you will not enter your card pin with someone leering over your shoulder while paying in a shopping queue, why expose yourself similarly online.   

“We urge consumers to remain vigilant of scammers who are looking to steal your money and personal details in the real world and the virtual world,” said Ethel Nyembe, Head of Card Issuing South Africa, Standard Bank.

According to a report by SABRIC,  fraud incidents across online and mobile banking apps increased by 75.3% in 2018 alone. Therefore, as you begin hunting through ‘Black Friday’ as well as ‘Cyber Monday’ deals this year, keep the following six tips in mind to make sure you don’t fall victim to any cyber trolls:

1.      Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi networks

Cyber criminals know how to thwart unsecured Wi-Fi to gain access to the information you send over it. So, it’s better you eat into some of your data to make sure your financial information is protected.

2.      Use complex passwords for online retailers

Having strong, secure passwords is essential to keeping your online identity and accounts safe from hackers. Always include a mix of letters, numbers and special characters to makes sure it’s not easy to crack into your online platforms.

3.      Never click on a suspicious link

Scammers might target you with emails that contain promotional links, appearing to be from a legitimate retailer. This is an attempt to get your attention and trick you into clicking on a link which carries malicious malware and stealing your personal information. Avoid clicking any unsecured links.

4.      Be on the look out

If you forget your bank card somewhere while shopping, rather cancel it immediately rather than go back to look for it. You might find it, but that leaves you with the risk of someone having taken your card details and using them for online fraud.

5.      Ditch unsecured online stores:

There are thousands of online stores, and with this form of shopping becoming so popular, it is easy to fall into the trap of purchasing through an unsecure site. Always look for a padlock on the site’s URL website itself to make sure it is safe.

“Black Friday’ is known to be one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, and it goes without saying that, just like the festive season, this is a busy time for criminals. Be sure to take extra precautions to protect yourself, your purchases, and your personal information. If something seems suspicious, it probably is, so stay away from it,” concludes Nyembe.

Similarly, in the real world:

How to guard your PIN

·        Memorise your PIN – never write it down or tell anyone what it is

·        If you can’t memorise it or have forgotten it, there are digital features such as that on Standard Bank’s mobile app that allows you to view your PIN.

·        Make sure nobody ever sees you entering your PIN

·        If anything makes you suspicious while using an ATM, cancel the transaction and remove your card

·        If you think your PIN is no longer a secret, change it at our ATMs or your nearest branch