Stay safe while shopping online

Stay safe while shopping online

Tech experts say there are many red flags to watch out for, such as fraud calls asking for OTPs and misleading websites

While shopping on e-commerce platforms comes with the lure of great offers, it is accompanied by the risk of being duped. Recently, a woman looking to purchase a kurta online, ended up losing around Rs 80,000 instead of the listed price of Rs 800.

On November 8, the woman downloaded a shopping app and placed the order. When the item did not reach her at the scheduled time, she contacted customer care. She was asked to fill a form with her bank details.

Soon, she received an OTP, which was shared with the customer care official on his request. Within minutes, Rs 79,600 was deducted from her account. She has since filed a complaint with the Konanakunte police. 

How can one protect oneself from such scams? Metrolife spoke to a few online experts for tips.

Pranav M B, policy officer, The Centre for Internet and Society, says that one must be careful about the platforms they choose. “Independent research on these sites is a must. One can easily access reviews and articles about dodgy sites. It is better to turn to recognised websites such as Amazon or Myntra,” he says.

While there are many things that one must pay attention to while making a payment, the most important one would be to check the URL of the website.

“For example, if ‘’ is a known shopping website, then watch out for ones that look similar, such as ‘’. The website could be fraudulent,” Pranav explains.

“Such cases are common in India, as many are not familiar with how URLs work and are not able to identify warning signs,” he says, adding that phishing (an attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details) is one of the most common methods used in these cases. Code-related breaches and hacking activity is rare.

“Many a time, people use public wifi at cafes or malls, which is unsecure. These internet connections are more vulnerable compared to a private connection,” he says.

Suniel Kumar, director of Nexiot, which focuses on Internet of Things (IoT) consulting- education and information security services, says while shopping, one should use a popular updated browser. “Using https links is also important,” he says.  

He says checking for feedback on products listed on the websites, and the pattern of feedback itself, is important. Along with reviews spread over a long period of time, one should also look for “diverse opinions about any product.”

Raj Kumar, a tech lead with an MNC, who has also worked in cybersecurity, points out that one must look at the reviews and feedback for an online application before downloading it,” he says.

One must also check the link to see how many products are displayed. “The number of products listed and the pricing strategy should be paid attention to,” he adds.

Choosing cash-on-delivery is the best option. Online transactions are riskier as “Fraudsters often pose as representatives from online payment wallets and ask for OTP. This is against the law and no credible company will do this,” says Kumar.

It is also important to keep a watch on your online transaction history. “If you find any change in your login location, check with the bank,” he says.

He also advises that customers should not save bank credentials on shopping websites. “It is also recommended to set a personal limit or sub-limit on card transactions,” says Kumar. 


Raj Kumar, tech lead with an MNC, says, “Look for URLs which are https, where a lock will appear on the left side of the weblink. This shows that it is more secure than others.”

Often browsers give warnings about insecure websites and it is the user’s discretion to go ahead or not, he adds.

Cops give tips for safe online transactions

A senior officer with the Cyber Crime Police Station of the Bengaluru Police asks people to be alert whenever they shop online.

Watch out for these:

Whenever you shop online, you must wait for the transaction to be complete before signing out.

At the payment gateway, never click on the ‘submit’ button repeatedly. This may lead you to some other link that will automatically download malware on your system. 

You may get some message asking you to share your pin number to complete a transaction. Never share your OTP, ATM pin and CVV with anyone, apart from verified payment gateways.

Often, conmen pretend to be representatives of online retail stores and call asking you to pay the balance amount for an item you ordered. No genuine online store will do that. They always credit any remaining balance, if any, to your account.

(Inputs from Nina C George)

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