Friday 10 January 2014

How To Protect Yourself From Online Fraud

Although making purchases online is very convenient, it is only reasonable that some consumers might be reluctant to carry out certain transactions online, particularly when personal or financial information is involved. After all, it was only very recently that Malaysian police took action against a network of online scammers who illegally obtained more than $1 million from their victims in Malaysia and Taiwan.
Still, buying goods online is generally safe, and research carried out by Rakuten showed that 71 per cent of Malaysian online shoppers are satisfied with their purchases. But whether you are buying music, books, cars, or furniture, it pays to keep the following advice in mind in order to protect yourself from online fraud.

Protect your computer

The first thing you can do to reduce the chances of experiencing online fraud is keeping your computer or internet-enabled device up to date with the latest security software. Keep in mind that malicious software can access confidential information you may have stored in your device and make it accessible to hackers. Don't only install an anti-virus, but download any updates and scan your computer regularly. Also, don't rely on anti-virus only, but also install anti-spyware software for enhanced protection.

Protect your accounts with passwords

Don't make things too easy for scammers or hackers and make sure to protect all your accounts (e-mail, social networks, online banking, etc.) with strong passwords. A strong password contains a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols. Moreover, a strong password should have at least 8 characters and not form a complete word or anything that is relatively easy to guess, such as your name or date of birth.

...and protect your passwords too

Password protection software, also known as password managers, can securely store all your passwords (as they should be different for each site) and encrypt them. Should anyone attempt to break into your accounts, this secure software will launch a two-layer authentication process or even fingerprint recognition, so that you and only you have access to your passwords.

How secure is a website?

Before you buy online, check that the website's address starts with 'https' instead of just 'http'. The 's' stands for 'secure' and tells you that the website has implemented trusted security systems. Also, check the website address for a padlock icon, which should be locked. Clicking on that icon will display what is known as a security certificate, so check the certificate to see if the company name that appears matches that of the site.

Managing your payments online

Whenever possible, avoid purchasing goods using a money transfer or any direct banking transaction where your financial details may be exposed. Nowadays, the vast majority of companies use payment gateways which allow the acceptance of PayPal or are linked with a secure payment processor who handles the online transactions. The advantage of using such methods is that the merchant will receive payment without ever having access to your bank details.
Being a victim of online fraud is a valid concern, so don't take chances when it comes to the security of your personal information. Make sure to follow the advice mentioned above and remember that you can never be too careful.
Steve is doing a masters in Visual Merchandising, and is currently studying for a module in online retail. He is trying to develop an app that gives the utmost security and customer experience for shoppers. 

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