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Five ways to secure yourself from online fraud

Shopping online is the new trend of the youth these days. With hectic jobs, family, travel etc people don’t get time to go to the shop and buy the things they need. Many of us find comfort in ordering things online as there is a wide range of options available. Be it food items, groceries, gold, clothes, footwear, and accessories, you can just do it at your convenience and comfort.

With online retailers having BIG sale days, how can one keep themselves secure? There is a solution. You could add a point on purchasing on credit card that saves the trouble of chasing the vendor in case of problems.

For most Indians, holidays are big occasions. They mean catching up with family, bingeing on home-made sweets and watching the latest blockbusters FDFS (First Day First Show, if you didn’t know it already) and the list goes on. But nowadays because of smartphones and online shopping, there is another big attraction these days: The BIG Online Sale Days. Online platforms offer ridiculously high discounts on products which you wouldn’t dare to buy on regular days. But before you crack your knuckles and get ready to start surfing, remember the words: Online Fraud. Did you know that there is a high correlation between holidays and theft? While you are busy having fun, thieves are waiting in the dark corners of the internet to steal your data and your hard-earned money. So be cautious when you order online.

Here’s how you can secure yourself from online fraud.

1) Keep your personal information confidential

Remember the immortal words of Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up your personal information to strangers online.” Well, he didn’t say the second half of the statement but he probably would, if he was alive today. Scam artists send perfectly original looking emails that offer some kind of product and ask for information such as your bank account number and PIN. These are known as phishing attacks. (On a side note: doesn’t the word ‘Phishing’ itself sound fishy)

Do not fall for the bait laid by the scammers. When you browse the internet, make sure that you are on a secure site by checking the URL on top. If the address begins with ‘https’, it means you are on a secure website.

 2) Use difficult PINs and passwords

You wouldn’t believe how many people put their password as ‘password’ or their PIN number as ‘1234’. With multiple accounts for Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, Skype and every other product on the spectrum, it can become quite difficult to remember each username and password. But that doesn’t mean you offer your online identity on a platter to cybercriminals.

Make sure that you use a strong password that has at least eight letters (both caps and small letters). And while you are at it, you could also include a few numbers and symbols in the mix. And while it is ideal to change your passwords multiple times, you should do it at least twice a year. You could also consider a password manager program to organise all your passwords.

 3) Credit cards instead of debit cards

You might think that it is better to use a debit card instead of a credit card to buy stuff online. It is money out of your own pocket and you don’t have to risk a huge debt in the future. However, when it comes to online shopping, credit cards offer a unique advantage. It is possible to get your money back in case a thief misuses your credit card. Most credit card companies return back the money in some way or the other in case of credit card fraud. However, debit cards do not offer this facility to customers.

 4) Check your bank statements

It might seem like a chore but it is always good to check your bank statements on a regular basis. But in case you have participated in one of the big online sales, it is all the more important to do so. It is best to sign up for a message and e-mail alert from your credit card company. This way, you will get an alert on your mobile phone as soon as a transaction occurs from your card. In case you find out that the card is being used by someone else, you can immediately call the credit card company and block the card.

 5) Additional layer of security

Card companies like MasterCard or Visa offer the option of a ‘secure code’ to customers when they shop online. For this, you need to register a password with the company which you will have to input at the time of a transaction. This might sound like yet another password for you to remember but basically, it means another layer of security. Alternately, you could also choose to receive a One Time Password (OTP) to your phone.

 To sum it up:

The world has come a long way since the birth of the internet. These days, cyber-thieves carry out their work from the comfort of their couches. That only indicates how much more alert you have to be when you go online. Be aware, be informed and be cautious when you conduct any transactions online. And lastly, be fast. Otherwise, the product you want might be sold out.