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Online shopping advice #2

South Africans will be doing a lot of online shopping this year. At the same time, cyber criminals will be doing some shopping of their own – in the form of attempting to steal credit card and banking details. CAREY VAN VLAANDEREN of ESET Southern Africa offers some tips on how to avoid being cyber-scammed.

Increasing numbers of South Africans will be shopping online this Christmas which means more scammers will be looking to do some shopping of their own.”Be warned – cyber criminals may steal your credit card and bank account details, or perhaps capture and sell personal information for some extra holiday cash.

To ensure cyber-shoppers avoid getting scammed while hunting for the best holiday deals and presents online, ESET Southern Africa has issued the some important advice for SA online shoppers:

1. Tune your shopping machine: Like the tune-up your car might be getting before a long drive to deliver holiday gifts to relatives, your laptop may need a little attention before going online for some power shopping. Give it improved protection, by updating and patching your browser, operating system, and anti-malware suite.

2. Stick with familiar faces: Buy from websites that have established a reputation for doing what they say, providing accurate descriptions of merchandise and delivering it in good shape and on time.

3. Be wary of “”amazing”” deals: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is, particularly if it’s an amazing offer on one of the hottest products of the season. Such deals can be very tempting, but it really is safer to avoid following links that offer goods, services, or gift cards at impossibly cheap prices, they are just too risky. Not all discount vendors are scammers, but ask yourself if the promised savings are worth the gamble (or Google the offer and/or vendor to see what others are saying).

4. Insist on secure transactions: When you are in the ordering process on a website check to make sure it is using SSL, the standard in secure transactions that shows up in several ways. You should be able to see https or shttp in front of the web address instead of http. There may also be a lock or key symbol in the browser window as well. Using SSL encrypts the exchange of information, such as your credit card, so eavesdroppers cannot read it. When in doubt, a quick search in Google for the word “”scam”” or “”fraud”” along with the site name should tell you if that site has a history of problems.

5. Think before you act: Watch out for urgent deals that arrive in unsolicited e-mail or purport to be from friends on social networking sites. If you think the deal is real, open a browser and type the name of the website directly into the address bar. This will keep you from getting swept away by scam links to fake websites.

Remember, as in life, there are things on your computer that can seem too good to be true, and holiday shopping on the internet is no different. Caution may sound boring, but it can pay off.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @gadgetza

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