With the Indian e-comm space on a constant spree of expansion and acquisitions, more and more Indian consumers are shifting away from the traditional way of shopping at brick and mortar stores to shopping at these online virtual malls. This, along with demonetization has led to a sudden rise in the number of digital payments made in the last year alone as against previous years. These comprise of various forms of payments such as debit/credit cards, net banking, mobile wallets, UPI, etc. This calls for an increasing need of awareness on how to ensure safe online payments.
Consumers tend to save personal financial information on various digital payments platforms for easier and quicker payments. While it definitely makes our lives easier, this also poses a serious security threat.
While transacting online, we are exposed to various risks of fraud such as – identity theft, loss of money and financial data and phishing scams (a way of getting personal information of others using deceptive mails/websites or apps). Since there is no escaping from making online payments in today’s world, one must take adequate measures to protect his/her hard earned money, both offline and online.
12 Golden Rules To Ensure Safe Online Payments!
Here are some basic precautions that you could take to ensure your money’s digital security:
1 – Check for HTTPS before making an online payment
Just as anybody could sniff through your personal docs/confidential mail from the mailbox outside your house, if left unlocked somebody could eaves drop on your internet connection too, when logged into an unsecured website. And if someone monitors your connection for long enough, they will gain access to any data that you send/receive or have stored on that site.
In order to prevent this breach of security, most email services, social networks, blogging platforms, etc.operate on a safe and secure protocol, called HTTPS. This security protocol is known as Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol over Transport Layer Security or HTTPS. In simple words, this means end-to-end encryption of any information that’s exchanged between you and the website servers.
The most common way to identify this is a green pad-lock icon in the left corner of the address bar. In other words, look for “https” at the beginning of the URL in the address bar (where you enter the website address) and NOT “http”.
Look for the green lock symbol in the address bar:
FIX : Absolutely avoid submitting any sensitive information (including credit card numbers, passwords, etc) or making any transaction on a website without HTTPS. 2 – Beware of suspicious links while browsing through search engines
Sometimes while browsing through the internet or searching for something on search engines, you may end up clicking a ‘poisoned’ link or search result which lead to a malicious site with malware on it. You can spot these by staying alert about mis-spelled domain names, weirdly different logo/branding than your intended destination site, etc. Cyber criminals well versed with SEO tricks build these poisoned links in order to get you to enter their malicious unsafe websites — this is famously known as Black SEO.
FIX : A typical anti-virus software installed on your pc should be able to tackle this issue. You could even avoid clicking on links and rather prefer typing out the url of the website you want to visit in order to avoid clicking on malicious links.
3 – Use a dedicated computer
If the volume of your online financial transactions is considerably high, then you could even consider to have a dedicated pc solely for this purpose. We recommend using browsers with HTTPS enforced on it as well as an anti-virus program installed on your computer. Keep the dedicated computer clean: don’t use it for casual surfing or social networking.
4 – Use a single dedicated email address for e-commerce websites
If you’re an avid online shopper we recommend you to create a separate email address just for online shopping. Keep this email account clean and de-cluttered. This way if you receive any such malicious email, on your primary ID, with suspicious promotion links/offers in it you’d be able to spot them right away.
5 – Avoid falling prey to online shopping frauds
Other than online fraudulent transactions a lot of people are also increasingly becoming victims of online shopping frauds, in which consumers end up paying in full but they do not receive the items as described or receive fakes. In order to avoid going through a similar ordeal, one must beware of such fraudulent online sellers (even on reputed sites) and bogus e-comm websites.
FIX : Before making payments online, make sure your merchant is reputed and trusted. Go through the number of orders placed and product reviews submitted by other users for the respective online seller and check for fake reviews too (usually are 1-line reviews with similar generic language used). If you find the seller to be untrustworthy, go for cash on delivery.
6 – Use a password manager and avoid using a common password for multiple accounts.
If you’re also somebody that uses multiple online accounts and don’t want to go through the hassle of remembering 10 different passwords all the time, you should start using a password manage right away. It not only stores all your passwords safely encrypted with a single password but will also help you avoid a common mistake—keeping one password for all your accounts. Some antivirus and Internet security products include password management and password security features. Apple products have this feature in-built in most of their products by the name of ‘key-chain access’.
7 – Avoid public Wi-Fi/computers
NEVER do financial transactions on a public Wi-Fi. These are usually unsecured networks which anyone can join without even requiring a network key/password. Such networks are not very well protected against hackers who can easily intrude into a public Wi-Fi network and steal your login details.
FIX : If you need to make a financial transaction when you are out, use your own mobile phone network for the same.
8 – Keep your data to yourself!!
Fraudsters try each and every method to their disposal to fetch your personal financial recods, be it offline or online. From getting you fill your card details on a dummy site to copying your card details by planting a card scanner at point of sale, your data is vulnerable if shared with anyone you’re not supposed to.
FIX : Try and avoid saving your bank and personal details in a browser or a payment site. Type the information whenever you make a transaction. Don’t forget to log out every time you log in (especially if it’s not your personal computer). NEVER share details such as your card number/CVV/account number with any caller posing to be from your bank. Banks never seek these details from the customer as they already have access to this data.
9 – Avoid downloading apps that you can’t trust
Nowadays, cyber criminals have even started using smartphone apps as a launchpad to infiltrate your devices with malware. In the last couple of years, there have been a record number of instances of android phones getting hacked reported from across the world.
FIX : Avoid downloading third-party apps other than from the app store. If an app seems unheard of (for example random dating apps), first try and look for what other users have to say about the app in the reviews section and download it only after assessing it’s authenticity.
10 – Activate screen-lock on your phone and 2-factor verification wherever available
Well, most of you would already have screen-lock activated on your phone but in case you’re one of those who got nothing to hide, you still need to do this ASAP. Nowadays, most digital payment platforms are primarily driven by smartphone apps. This means anybody with access to your phone has access to all your e-wallets, banking apps, etc.
FIX : Another counter to this issue is having 2-factor verification enabled on your email, credit cards payments, etc. which is nothing but a double verification process in which you receive an OTP or verification call after you’ve entered your login credentials to ensure that it’s you who’s logging into your account.
11 – Keep an eye out for suspicious payment alert messages
In case, you don’t already have the SMS alerts feature active, we advice you should get it right away. If ever, you notice an SMS alert about some account activity not initiated by you report to the bank immediately and cancel all your cards. If informed well in-time, your money is safe and the bank has to reimburse you for losses, if any, as per RBI guidelines.
In case, there is a third-party breach and where the fault/deficiency is neither with the bank nor with the bank customer then customer’s liability is summarized as below ;
12 – Don’t fall for lottery/email scams
There are numerous jobless scammers sitting somewhere behind a computer screen in some African country spamming thousands of people with emails claiming that you’ve won a lottery worth millions of dollars/pounds in some corporate company’s annual lucky draw and you need to make a registration deposit along with your account details to claim the prize. I’m sure even as you’re reading this post, you’d have hundreds of such emails even now stashed somewhere in your spam folder.
FIX : Don’t be greedy and DO NOT FALL FOR THIS! And a little bit of life advice here too, if ever anybody offers you something for lot cheaper or better looking than it should be, it’s time to RUN…
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This is a guest post by Dharmil Fifadra. You could visit his blog, ‘Live More For Less‘ for more such interesting reads on how you could save loads of cash every month. At LMFL, you can find some amazing hacks to save money on almost everything, from bill payments to flight tickets, online shopping offers and a lot more…
About the author :
Dharmil (Chief Saving Officer at LMFL) is a young 20-something Mumbai lad on his journey to becoming a serial entrepreneur. Amateur blogger. Smart shopper. An avid sleeper. Sometimes critical but always analytical. Has a deep knack of spotting loopholes in any system.
Kindly note that ReLakhs.com is not associated with livemoreforless.in. This is a guest post and NOT a sponsored one. We have not received any monetary benefit for publishing this article. The content of this post is intended for general information / educational purposes only.
(Pic courtesy – shutterstock.com) (Post first published on : 17-August-2018)