Be alert when you shop online

Be alert when you shop online

As online shopping frenzy grips shoppers, many forget the many security risks

Raj Kumar

Online shopping is big in Bengaluru, especially during the festive season.

It is important to stay secure, given the magnitude of transactions and the online customers’ tendency to take security lightly.

Metrolife spoke to experts to understand how your online transactions could be secure.

Raj Kumar, tech lead with an MNC in Bengaluru and an expert in the domain, says an individual’s data being accessible to another illegally is a threat.

He identifies three shopping patterns: shopping at brick and mortar outlets, using a computer and shopping online, and shopping through mobile applications. His advice: Be careful when keying in credentials at a shop, and don’t be slack about numbers while shopping online.

India has a huge number of computer users who do not use legitimate versions of their operating system. “An original version helps one receive patches and updates from the company. Don’t use a pirated operating system. Update your system regularly,” he says.

Raj Kumar also recommends a good anti-virus solution to keep cyber attackers at bay. Storing credit card and debit card details on shopping websites is a strict no-no, he warns.

“It takes barely 30 seconds to enter a 16-digit card number. Even if it is a trusted online platform, don’t give up your data to a third-party user,” he says.

Online security on mobile phones is limited as they are often not backed up anti-virus solutions.

“Whenever downloading a shopping application, check thoroughly through customer reviews. You are your own judge, so research well. Even on mobile applications, don’t save card details. When doing an online transaction, always opt for an OTP-based authentication, as cracking passwords is easy,” he adds.

Mandar Agashe, founder and vice chairman, Sarvatra Technologies, says it is good to shop at better-known websites such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Jabong.

Mandar Agashe

Secure payment gateways are usually verified by Visa, Mastercard and RuPay, so look out for them. “If you have to conduct transactions on a new website, for travel or festive shopping, make sure you never enter your payment details directly on the website but through a safe payment gateway which pops up as another window. Ensure the payment gateway is a known one,” he adds.

While doing a transaction online, make sure the CVV number gets masked when the first number is entered.

“Masking confirms that encryption is taking place. Do not enter more digits if the first digit does not get masked. Also do not proceed further with the transaction if an OTP is not asked,” he details.

Cash on delivery and card on delivery pose the least risks when it comes to payment options for shopping online, he says.

Torn sari in box

Madikeri Mukesh, who lives in Kengeri, recently ordered a dress for his daughter on a little-known website. The site delivered a torn sari instead. When he texted the company for a refund, he was told he would get one in 10 days. Nothing happened. The website gives the store address as ‘Gujarat.’ It gives no specific address.

Experts’ recommendations

  • Enter your credit and debit card number each time. Don’t save numbers on any site.
  • Shop only at well-known online stores. Be wary of little-known sites with no postal address.
  • Change your credit and debit card passwords once every month.
  • When you travel abroad, use travel cards instead of your credit and debit cards.

Customer advice

‘Too good to be true’

Arsha P Khuresh, teacher, shopped for some gifts online recently and was duped by a new website.

“I was looking for deals on a particular mobile phone to gift my sister. When I saw the model at a 65 per cent discount, I grabbed it. I clicked on the ad on a social media website and ordered the phone, only to be sent a display phone, the dummy kind you see kept at stores. When I tried contacting the company for a refund, I realised the number did not exist and there was no valid address to return it to.”

Advice: Stay away from ‘too good to be true’ offers.

‘Do not click on promos directly’

“Sometimes you might get promotional offers or discounts on your email. Clicking on them directly can help the entity access data from your computer. While checking such links, right click on the offer, copy the hyperlink, paste on a notepad and validate it. If you want to explore the link, copy it and enter into a browser window and hit enter. Check if the link is https which has a secure protocol, a lock symbol shows the link is safe.”

Raj Kumar, tech lead with an MNC.

Not too bad in India

“In India, there are thankfully three-factor security steps which include entering of the CVV or pin and the OTP. We are far more secure compared to other parts of the world. But it is best to continuously change the pin every month. Don’t save your pin and bank details on your mobile.”

Mandar Agashe, Founder and vice chairman, Sarvatra Technologies

Look out for cyberattacks

  • After shopping online, keep tabs on your account balance. If you notice a suspicious transaction, report to your bank and credit card company within 48 hours.
  • That can get you a 100 per cent refund.
  • Don’t save bank account details on your mobile phone.
  • When travelling, store your debit and credit cards in different bags.
  • When back after travelling abroad, apply for a reissue of your debit and credit cards. Using a travel card is a safe option.