Kuala Lumpur, 17 December 2019
by Edgaras Katinas

Looking at our lifestyle and surroundings now, our lives have reached a point where online purchasing becomes a common activity in our lives; anything from food items to daily essentials, they are easily attainable with just a few clicks away. While brands continue to make their products and services appealing to consumers, the aggressive battle among online businesses neglects the welfare of online shoppers. In reality, we are not taught how to shop safely online nor are we constantly bombarded with reminders on scam alerts. The truth is, we enter each website at our own risk; there will not be anyone hiding behind the screen just to warn us if something doesn't feel right.

In fact, falling prey to online scams can be a very painful experience. With the rise of online shopping practice, the internet is gradually becoming a hub for scams to take place. In the case of online scams, scammers commonly set up fake websites or social media pages offering goods and services. They claim to be legitimate online sellers and dupe consumers into making payments into personal bank accounts in order to receive the products or services. However, once the payment is made, the scammers disappear without a trace. Even the websites and phone numbers are no longer available, and everything becomes too late to retrieve your hard-earned cash. Sounds familiar?

Online shopping sites are inevitably great platforms to compare prices and find bargains, but as it becomes a habit among consumers, the risks follow as more scammers get creative with their tactics. Nevertheless, you can still enjoy a pleasant online shopping experience when you take note of these tips.

Tip #1: Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi

Using public Wi-Fi for online shopping is considered one of the most common mistakes and yet, its threat has always been underestimated. Realising the presence of Wi-Fi in coffee shops or malls seem like the most amazing discovery to some of us; we could access the internet with our phones or tablets without any restrictions. But hey, you should never be too comfortable with its usage, it might do you more harm than good before you realise. Generally, public Wi-Fi is often unsecured, any confidential information that you send while connected to this network can be accessed by fraudsters anytime. So, if you are thinking of performing internet banking transactions or anything that is sensitive, switch on your mobile data instead.

Tip #2: Do your research prior to making a purchase

There are many reasons to shop online: a wide range of choices, good deals, convenient and the list goes on. However, even when there are thousands of websites to browse through, it takes skills and most importantly research to identify which are the fraudulent ones. This is especially applicable to those who favour shopping from social media channels, as inexperienced shoppers would pay more attention to the product photos than anything else; the photos may appear convincing, but you may not be too sure whether the seller behind the business is legit. And this is why you should never take the risk to purchase before you are confident with your research. For first-time visits, try to look them up online and search for reviews or comments. A reliable site should provide sufficient product information and multiple ways to be contacted for the very least, and if you are not able to source them, then your instincts should tell you that something is not right.

Tip #3: Ensure the website is secured with SSL/TLS encryption

As normal internet users, it would be a challenge for us to tell if a website is secured. Worse still, most of us tend to neglect to check the site before we proceed with browsing. But here’s one way to find out if you are on a safe site. With the increasing number of scam cases and hacking, more websites are relying on SSL/TLS encryption to secure online data. Rest assured, as this type of encryption is incredibly difficult for hackers to break into, edging on the impossible with current computer processing power. What you should be looking out for, are websites that have been verified in their use of this high-level encryption standard. In other means, the front of the web address should contain a padlock symbol and/or an “HTTPS” in the front.

Tip #4: The site is supported by a secured payment gateway

If you are unfamiliar with the existence of payment gateways, it’s time for you to pay attention to its functions and practicality. For one, payment gateways such as iPay88 exist in the market primarily to secure online payments, even if you are purchasing from less-than-secure sites. For instance, hosted payment gateways like iPay88 on any website ensure that your financial information like credit card or banking information never falls into the hands of merchants. Therefore, you don’t need to create new accounts on different purchasing websites, to prevent the collection of your information. On top of that, iPay88 payment gateway is in compliance with PCI-DSS level 1 to ensure that all transaction are safeguarded.

So remember, the next time before you make any purchases on websites, be sure to keep a lookout for the details and stay alert at all times. If you’re not too sure about the website, it’s never wrong to just leave.