The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all aspects of our lives. As people adopt and adhere to social distancing practices, many have turned to online shopping.

According to a recent Mastercard study, South Africa has seen a surge of online shoppers, with 68% of consumers saying that they are shopping more online since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Whether it’s buying data and airtime, stocking up on essentials or buying a gift to spoil your loved one this festive season, shopping online has become a part of daily life for many people. The heightened awareness around hygiene and the desire to avoid face-to-face contact in brick and mortar stores has spurred this shift,” says Suzanne Morel, Country Manager at Mastercard, South Africa.

While e-commerce continues to grow, Mastercard has put measures in place to protect consumers while they shop and transact online. Sixty four percent of surveyed respondents said that a secure checkout experience is integral to a good shopping experience, as are easy return policies (65%), and promotions and loyalty programmes (62%).

In a world where criminals are becoming smarter, Mastercard is applying the power of innovation to provide our cardholders with peace of mind when they choose to shop online. It is also critical to protect your personal and financial details when shopping online, just as you would protect your wallet containing your payment cards in the physical world,” says Morel.

Here’s Mastercard’s top tips to help you to safely shop online:

  1. Be aware of stranger (online) danger:For new online shoppers, it is best to stick to the most well-known online e-tailers. If you’re not familiar with a brand or website, learn as much as you can about the seller before you purchase from them. Do an online search to check recommendations and feedback from other customers to gauge their reputation. Check the company’s policies for refunds and returns, before you place your order.
  2. Use a secure connection:Ensure your computer is equipped with antivirus software to protect your data from malware and keep important financial information such as login details and passwords safe.
  3. Keep your password safe: Most reputable online shops require you to register with a username and password before you place an order. When selecting a password, avoid using commonly known or predictable information such as your birth date, surname or pet’s name, and don’t use the same password that you use for other sites. The best passwords have at least eight characters and include numbers and letters. Keep your passwords safe and don’t share them – protect them as you would your PIN for your physical payment card.
  1. Pay with a Mastercard Credit or Debit Card for Zero Liability Fraud Protection: Peace of mind comes from knowing that you won’t be held responsible for unauthorised or compromised purchases, whether online, over-the-phone or in stores. Zero Liability means as a Mastercard cardholder, your purchases made online, or via a mobile device, are protected. You won’t be charged for fraudulent transactions provided you can prove that you stored your card securely and didn’t inadvertently share your card details with anyone.
  2. Consider the convenience of digital wallets:Make use of safe and secure digital wallets such as Masterpass, which enables you to scan a QR code displayed at checkout, giving you a secure and simple online payment experience. You can also top up your airtime and data or electricity with in-app payments or pay your bills – from DStv and traffic fines.
  3. Keep browsers updated: Updates are there to protect you. Always do system and app updates to minimise risk. You should also ensure that you only enter your payment details into a secure web page. A secure web page has ‘https://’ at the beginning of the address bar and a picture of a locked padlock in the browser.
  4. Check paperwork: Keep track of your statements and receipts. Check for any suspicious or unverified transactions. This helps you to also ensure there are no fraudulent activities on your account.

The next time you’re shopping online, remember these tips and use them as a checklist so that you can continue shopping online safely and securely.