E-commerce retail sales have risen steadily in recent years and are particularly strong during the Holiday Season.
The trend continues to accelerate. According to a major study conducted by CEFRIO, in the first half of the year, 4 out of 10 Quebecers made online purchases totalling an average of $281 per month.1 The survey (in French) of 500 consumers shows that close to 7,000 transactions were made on 1,581 websites during the survey period alone. Now imagine the results if we were to extrapolate to the entire population! You have a huge number of transactions that scammers can target to swindle you.
Websites are online stores. Would you make purchases in a shop that you don’t trust? By taking a few simple safety precautions you could avoid some nasty surprises:
- Only buy on well-known, secure sites.
- Make sure the website actually offers a secure connection (https and not http).
- Read the privacy policies of the sites on which you give personal information during a transaction.
Are you secure at your computer?
You may feel secure because you are at home in front of your computer or in a public place that you believe is safe. Let’s see if you are taking the right steps to ensure the security of your personal information.
- Is your Web browser up to date? Big companies make regular updates and take the opportunity to correct the latest security weaknesses that could be exploited by cybercriminals. Check your parameters.
- Do you use complex passwords? Do you have different passwords for each site? If you use a single password for all your preferred sites, you are giving hackers an easy-to-decode master key.
- Do you make transactions on a public computer? If you do, it’s risky. Always use a secure device with anti-virus protection and up-to-date software.
- Are you properly protecting your credit card information? Know that on a public computer or another device using an unsecure Wi-Fi connection, your transactions can be viewed by hackers.
Online consumers beware!
Some bargains seem so sensational that it’s hard to resist the temptation! As a consumer, there are some precautions you can take to avoid disappointment:
- Read the exchange and refund conditions before buying.
- Take customs and delivery charges into account when making a purchase.
- Print your transactions or create a file for each transaction which can be used to confirm your purchases or serve as proof in case of fraud or a dispute.
- Verify your transactions and statements monthly.
- Immediately report any suspicious transaction, discrepancy or possible fraud to your financial institution and your credit card company.
- Ask your credit card company for a card with a very low limit which you will use only for your online purchases.
- Don’t hesitate to use the alert functions of your financial institution and your credit card to monitor the use of your money.
While shopping, you visited many sites. Your browsing history was tracked not only by the merchant, but also by others, including some malicious individuals who will seize the opportunity to try to scam you by email.
The offer may seem attractive, but you don’t know who you’re dealing with! Avoid falling into such traps.
Never click on links in an email that is suspicious or of unknown origin.
By developing good safety habits, you can avoid lots of problems when shopping online.