Protecting yourself when shopping online

Most of us are constantly ‘connected’ to the internet. With our laptops, smartphones and tablets we use the internet throughout the day for entertainment, socialising, keeping in touch with family, and education. Another major use of the internet is shopping, in the form of e-commerce.


According to the Nielsen Global E-Commerce Survey Aug 2014, e-commerce is big business and getting bigger every day. Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales worldwide reached $1.5 trillion in 2014, an increase of nearly 20% from 2013. In Malaysia it is estimated around 7 million Malaysians purchase products online every month.



Online shopping is convenient, easy and quick, and consumers are comfortable in making purchases online. However, online shopping has its risks. The popularity and profitability of online retail has resulted in unscrupulous people looking to take advantage of you while you shop. Their tactics may include:

  • Deception. In the virtual world, it can be hard to distinguish reputable retailers from criminals, as just about anyone can set up fraudulent a website that appears to be a legitimate business.
  • Invasion. You may be tricked into downloading spyware or malware inadvertently onto your computer, allowing access to your personal information and passwords. Sophisticated hackers will also use this technique to breach online business’ databases to steal customer payment information.


So before you plug in your payment details and click ‘Buy’, here are EZTakaful’s tips for safe online spending for you and your family…

Check out the seller: Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine.  If you buy from a seller you have never done business with, conduct independent research before shopping.

Make sure the site is legitimate: Never make purchase online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. A site has SSL if the URL starts with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://) and also includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar.

Don’t tell all: Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Only fill out required fields on a vendor’s checkout form and check out the website’s privacy policy.

Use a credit card instead of a debit card: Credit cards are generally a safer option as they have spending limits, while debit cards are directly linked to your bank account. Furthermore, you can dispute fraudulent charges made to a credit card without being out-of-pocket the amount in dispute, but money withdrawn directly from your checking account by a debit card is more difficult to recover.

Limit your credit limit: If possible, sign up for a credit card with a low credit limit and use it exclusively for online spending to minimise your risk.

Keep a paper record: Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of sale, and copies of any email exchange with the seller.

Check statement: Do not wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly to check your credit card statements to make sure there aren’t any unauthorised charges.

Protect your PC: Protect against malware with regular updates to your anti-virus programs. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defences against viruses, malware and other online threats.

Turn your computer off when not in use: Do not leave your computer connected to the internet when not in use to minimise the risk of hackers accessing your computer to install malware and commit cybercrimes.

Use a strong password: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.

Unique passwords for unique accounts: Having separate passwords for every account helps thwart cybercriminals.

Don’t use public terminals: Do not use a public computer to make purchases. If this can’t be avoided, remember to log out every time you use a public terminal, even when just checking your email.

Privatise your Wi-Fi: If you do decide to shop with your laptop when you are out, you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection. Only use public Wi-Fi if you are able to access the internet over a virtual private network (VPN) connection.

With these basic tips we are sure you and your family will enjoy the conveniences of technology and online shopping with peace of mind!



Next time the EZTakaful Blog will look at a question we get regularly get asked…‘Life and Personal Accident Insurance. What’s the difference?’ Find out the answer with us!

Happy Reading and shop safely!

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