Crowded malls, long queues and pushing and shoving are some of the deterrents for consumers setting off on any shopping expedition. These are a few of the reasons why many of us have chosen to shop online: you just have to make sure your bank cards are safe …

While popular portals like Takealot and Yuppiechef certainly make retail therapy a breeze, they also present numerous risks to shoppers, many of whom are more than willing to part with their banking details in exchange for the convenience of one-click shopping.

Cybercrime has become far more prevalent in recent years, with online scammers constantly finding new and improved ways to circumvent security protocols. As a result, an increasing number of shoppers have begun to fall victim to identity theft, phishing scams and credit card fraud, particularly during busy retail seasons.

What can you do to ensure you aren’t a victim of cybercrime?

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you stay on the safe side of online shopping:

Firm up your password

Many online shoppers tend to opt for simple passwords, relying on familiar names and birth dates so as to ensure easy recall. While this strategy is undoubtedly a time saver, it also leaves your account far more susceptible to hacking.

Before you enter any of your details online, make sure to firm up the strength of your password, including numbers, symbols and both upper- and lower-case letters where possible. You’d also be well advised to change things every now and then, and to use different passwords for your respective accounts so as to reduce the risk factor.

Only use safe sites

The majority of reputable online retailers make use of site encryption, which helps to protect your data as it’s transferred. These sites are easily identifiable by the additional ‘s’, which appears after the customary ‘http‘, as well as the closed padlock icon that appears alongside it.

If you don’t spot either of these tell-tale signs of safety, it’s best not to part with any information or credit-card details. By only making use of encrypted sites to cover your shopping requirements, you’ll be far likelier to receive only what you bargained for.

Stay on private networks

Using public wifi connections or Internet cafés to make financial transactions can severely compromise your security, proffering your private information to opportunists accessing the same network.

You may feel compelled to buy that brand new bag or shiny new stereo right this second, but be aware that your need for instant gratification could cause you numerous headaches further down the road.

Build your own security perimeter

The surest way to keep yourself safe from cybercrime is to create your own personal security perimeter, which you can do by installing reputable anti-virus and anti-malware software. These programs help to detect and eliminate harmful viruses, which can easily take over your system without your knowledge and facilitate the theft of valuable data. Make sure to keep your software updated regularly, as viruses are regularly updated so as to bypass these security controls.

Set up internet banking alerts

Knowledge is power when it comes to cybercrime, and while it might not always be possible to avoid scammers entirely, you’ll certainly be able to mitigate the damage by keeping close tabs on your bank accounts. Make sure you have your alert functionality switched on at all times so you can keep track of all your transactions and put a stop to any fraud before it’s too late.

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