The Black Friday sale tradition is gaining momentum in South Africa, with leading retailers promising significant discounts. For many consumers, the discounts will prove too tempting for caution as they happily part with their personal information and hand over their credit cards to snap up the deals on offer.
The key to safe shopping this Black Friday is to stay vigilant and watch your credit card, writes Marius Coetzee, CEO of Ideco.
Long live the brick and mortar store
It might surprise some shoppers to discover that online shopping can be safer than using your credit card at a restaurant or retail outlet. When you hand over your physical credit card, it is very easy for fraudsters to ‘skim’ the card – presenting it to a card reader at the bottom of the point of sale device. This information can be shared across a syndicate within minutes, and by the time the victim becomes aware of the problem, their account could have been drained.
Keep an eye on your card throughout the transaction. Giving your card to someone who walks away with it to a point of sale terminal is asking for problems. Many reputable retailers now allow customers to conclude their own transactions by entering the card into the point of sale device. This is typically the safest option, allowing the consumer to stay in control of their own card and personal information.
Reasons to guard your identity
While reputable online retailers go to great lengths to ensure a secure environment for transactions, there are some potential risks in buying online or over the ‘phone, mostly because of consumers’ willingness to share personal information with strangers. Rules to remember:
* Your identity – your personal information – is the key to accessing your home and your bank account, so you have to be cautious about who you share it with. One way to be sure you’re sharing your information with a trusted online retailer is to initiate the engagement and the purchase.
* If you initiate the process by going to a reputable online retailer’s website or calling a company’s contact centre, you know who you’re engaging with. Whereas if you click on a link you’ve been sent via email to start shopping, or you share personal information with someone who calls you on the ‘phone, you have no way of knowing for sure who you are giving your information to.
* It’s safest not to answer questions from people pushing a sales effort to you – rather ask them to confirm the information they have about you. If they don’t have your details, be careful of confirming your personal identity information.
It’s commonly accepted that when you drop your guard is when fraudsters will strike. So on Black Friday, when everyone is distracted in the rush to grab the best deal, they need to exercise caution and guard their information.