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Do’s and don’ts of online shopping this festive season

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With the festive season around the corner, lovers of online shopping are starting to get itchy fingers at the thought of all the gifts they will be purchasing at the click of a button. However, they’re being cautioned to keep their money safe in the process.
Online shopping is fast and convenient,” says Thomas Pays, co-founder and CEO of i-Pay. “But the ever-present threat of cybercrime means digital shoppers need to be careful when paying for those festive-season gifts.”
i-Pay is a South African EFT payment gateway startup, which allows user to make secure, fast EFT payments at lower costs compared to card charges by traditional financial service institutions such as banks. The i-Pay gateway does not require an app or registration, can be used across messaging platforms and devices and does not store any user credentials.
Local online shopping is estimated to be worth R9-billion in 2016, up 20% on 2015 figures, according to the Online Retail in South Africa 2016 report by World Wide Worx released in April 2016. World Wide Worx also predicts online retail sales will double by 2020.
“As more and more South Africans make use of online shopping, it is crucial that the public is made aware of how to avoid the dangers of cybercrime,” Pays says.
“Fighting card fraud committed in your name can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. It’s not something you want to be doing, especially at this time of the year when you really want to start relaxing and spending time with family and friends.”
Pays offers the following tips for keeping your money secure when shopping online:

Do: Know your http from your https
“Trusted sites like i-Pay have security measures in place to protect your information when making payments, including https secure communication,” says Pays.
Http (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) is used when transmitting information or data over the internet.
“When you see ‘https’ at the start of a URL, the ‘s’ at the end stands for ‘Secure’. This means all information between your browser and the website is encrypted,” Pays says.
“You should only ever use https sites when making online payments, including when you buy gifts on websites, because of the encryption safety feature,” he says.

Don’t: Be reckless with your information
Online shoppers should never store their personal information, such as bank or card details, on their computers or devices and need to be cautious when asked to provide such data by websites.
“You must also always remember to be careful what sites you visit and what pop up icons or screens you click on, especially if you are new to online shopping,” Pays says.
This is because some of these may be harmful to your device as cybercriminals can use them as a way to steal your information.
“The joy of using gateways such as i-Pay is that none of your credentials are stored, meaning there is little data that cybercriminals can actually steal,” says Pays.

Do: Make it work for you
“Online shopping is convenient, so enjoy the extra time it provides by allowing you to avoid the festive-season crowds,” says Pays.
Pays says shoppers are spoiled for choice with multiple online stores and a wide variety of payment options available to them.
“Choice is one of the most important aspects of online shopping in the digital age and, from a business perspective, the customer experience is vital to ensure repeat customers. For example, i-Pay allows you to buy your gifts via SMS, email, QR code or push notifications on any smartphone device or computer,” he says.

Don’t: Let cybercrime scare you
Pays says that while cybercrime is a reality, online shoppers can rest assured that it is a relatively safe method of buying gifts – and that security is further improved by following simple processes.
He concludes, “By remaining vigilant, using secure sites and keeping your personal information hidden, you can keep your money safe from cybercriminals this festive season while also enjoying the convenience of online shopping.”