Knowing what online scam is one thing, and avoiding them is another.
Hey there, we are back with part 2 of online scams in online shopping.
With the convenience and countless options offered by online retailers and businesses, there’s no shying away from the fact that more and more Pakistanis are turning to online shopping.
But wait! While you may not have to fret over pickpockets in cyberspace, there’s still plenty of reason to safeguard your sensitive data. Let’s explore some nifty tips to ensure a secure shopping experience.
5 Tips for Secure Online Shopping in Pakistan
Online shopping can be a headache – especially if you’re not a seasoned shopper. Fortunately for you, though, we’ve gathered some foolproof guidelines that can make all the difference in the world. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind before checking out.
1. Use Trusted Websites
This may seem like a given, but you’ll be surprised to know just how many individuals fall prey to online scams solely because they purchased something from a fishy site that hasn’t been encrypted, which is why it’s always a good idea to stick to trusted platforms.
2. Use Secure Payment Methods
Surprises are great – unless it’s a notification from your bank breaking you the news of a wiped-out bank account. Well this doesnt exactly happen, but yes, the dreaded SMS that alerts you of a charge when you know you didn’t buy anything, or had previously cancelled a subscription – yes, that is always distrubing.
The best way to maneuver past this, you ask?
Skip the debit card wherever and whenever possible; instead, opt for a credit card if you must. They offer maximum protection with minimum liability in the event of being stolen. But we still recommend cash with online shopping.
3. Verify Seller Credentials and Customer Reviews
Remember when we were told as children never to follow the crowd mindlessly? Well, they obviously weren’t thinking of customer reviews. Ratings can be your one true savior when all else looks bleak. An angry review and a 1-star rating are almost always more believable than dozens of positive reviews from bots. (Yes, that’s a thing too. But we’ll save that for another day).
4. Be Cautious of Counterfeit Products
We all love a good deal; who doesn’t?
Online shopping in fact, has some of the best deals round the clock and you may find stores saying that ‘oh that sale is online available for online shopping’.
We are not saying that is a scam, we are saying, to always pay cash and or to store to buy.
Always check for seller details, product descriptions, and images to gauge legitimacy when online shopping. Better safe than sorry!
5. Keep Information Secure
Most websites will ask you for your information when completing a purchase; make sure to only give them what they need, which is often highlighted with a red asterisk. So, if there’s something you can skip, do so.
No need to pay via card, select cash on delivery for the first 3 times you shop via any website.
Safeguard your Personal and Financial Information
Beef Up your Passwords
Okay, we sound like a broken record right now, but having strong, unique passwords couldn’t be more stressful.
They’re the best gatekeepers when it comes to protecting your personal data and, ideally, shouldn’t be the same for multiple sites. A strong password contains 8 or more characters, including lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
And while you’re at it, enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. It serves as an extra protective layer, making it harder for cybercriminals to gain control of your accounts. Making sure your security software is up to date always helps as well, this includes installing anti-spam software to prevent spam and junk email, setting up a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to your computer through malware and anti-spyware software which blocks spyware installation on your computer.
Stay Away from Public Wi-Fi Networks
If you’re thanking your stars for a free hotspot at the airport or your nearest café, you’re in for some disappointment.
As much as you love free Wi-Fi, scammers love prying on unsuspecting individuals (perhaps even more so). If you absolutely have to use it, at least ensure you’re logged out of banking sites/apps and connected to a reliable VPN.
Yea the malls’ wi-fi is as risky, best to ask the shop you’re in to let you use their network for few minutes.
Regularly Monitor Financial Accounts for Suspicious Activity
With cybercrime becoming increasingly frequent, it’s crucial to stay vigilant. This means keeping an eye on your financial accounts for any suspicious activity, including online payment transactions and bank statements.
How do you do this? If you have NayaPay or SadaPay, use their virtual cards for online shopping, this way you can freeze them at will and also know immiediately which site used the card without your permission.
If you notice any unusual movement, report it immediately.
Safe Social Media Practices
Secure Social Media Accounts and Privacy Settings
For example, Facebook has an option of ‘friends only,’ which prevents outsiders from prying on your online activity.
Limiting visibility to only close and trusted friends puts you at a significantly lower risk of falling prey to online scams.
This rule goes for all social platforms like X, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and even Quora.
Sharing Personal Information Online
This may come as no surprise, but it’s always good to have a refresher: think twice before sharing sensitive data on social media platforms.
This includes posting details of your full address or clues that may give away your location, phone number, mother’s maiden name, or information that may give out answers to your security questions.
Be mindful of publishing pictures as well.
Friend Requests and Messages
While social media is a great place to expand your network and make new friends, it’s best to exercise caution when accepting suspicious friend requests. The lengths cybercriminals go to create fake profiles are shocking, to say the least.
If you don’t have mutuals or have never met the person, don’t let them into your network. And if they’re engaging in malicious behavior, you can always block and report them by flagging their account as abusive or fake.
Conquering the Digital Frontier: Safety First
Online shopping scams are the most common fraudulent activities people in Pakistan face, but with these tips, you’re now ready more than ever to venture into the digital landscape!