Scam season! How to use your credit card safely when shopping online during the season of sales

There is always the danger of hackers gaining access to your data when you are shopping online. Picture: Pexels

There is always the danger of hackers gaining access to your data when you are shopping online. Picture: Pexels

Published Nov 22, 2023


Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become highly anticipated shopping days in South Africa.

Stores around the country lower their prices, attracting tens of thousands of customers. Many of these offers are accessible online, and while these digital buying options provide convenience and comfort during the busy holiday season.

The executive of trading products at Nedbank, Privesan Naidoo warned that making purchases online might potentially expose you to theft.

“While the convenience of online shopping is undeniable, it can lull us into a false sense of security. But we should be doubly vigilant when shopping online to ensure that the season of giving does not become a season of loss due to cyber scams,” he said.

Naidoo provides a variety of helpful suggestions to assist internet buyers use their credit cards safely:

Do some digital housekeeping before you go shopping

To begin, make sure your home network is secure with robust encryption and Wi-Fi passwords. Upgrade your web browser to the most recent version.

Then, be sure that any passwords you use for online accounts, particularly digital banking services, are strong. To make it difficult for hackers to enter, mix together letters, numbers, and symbols.

When shopping or transacting, avoid using public or shared Wi-Fi. If you utilise these networks, hackers can easily obtain your information, therefore it's recommended to use your own data or a secure home connection.

Finally, if feasible, utilise a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your activity from prying eyes.

Activate transaction alerts

Online consumers should enable any transaction notifications provided by their bank on their credit card.

As a result, you are alerted when a transaction happens and, in many situations, must confirm the transaction before funds are deducted from your card account.

This level of surveillance may frequently be the difference between becoming a victim of fraud and putting an end to it.

Only shop on websites you know and trust

At this time of year, it's tempting to hunt for the greatest discounts online, but Naidoo warns that not all deals are created equal, and not all businesses are trustworthy.

Stick to well-known websites and conduct due research on any new ones you might wish to buy from, such as checking for reliable reviews and an actual company location.

This time of year sees an increase in the number of scam websites, so before you provide your credit card information, inspect the site for any tell-tale symptoms of a fake, such as slight changes in the web URL, a weird email address, or low-quality photos.

Try to use credit cards instead of debit cards

When shopping online, attempt to use a credit card rather than a debit card.

Credit cards, such as an American Express card, provide greater protection in the event that something goes wrong, such as someone obtaining your card information.

Don’t store your credit card information online

Many online shops allow you to save your credit card information on their e-commerce platforms so that you may check out quickly and easily in the future.

Think twice before doing so

There is always the danger of hackers gaining access to data on the site, and if your credit card information is stored there, the risk of them exploiting your information for fraudulent reasons increases.