Online shopping: How to protect your money from cyber criminals

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High penetration of mobile internet use has changed consumer behaviour, with more Kenyans shopping. As smartphone use grows so does consumer appetite for affordable online goods.

With the convenience and optimisation of e-commerce Apps, online shopping is now more on-the-go, allowing consumers to buy anytime, anywhere across the country especially with delivery services offered by retailers.

To that effect, growth of online shopping is dwarfing that of total traditional retail market. Last year, total global retail sales reached Sh230 trillion ($22.049 trillion), up six per cent from the corresponding year.

eMarketer estimates sales will top Sh270 trillion ($27 trillion) in 2020, even as annual growth rates slow over the next few years, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Worldwide Retail Ecommerce Sales: The eMarketer Forecast for 2016.”

Global online retailers such as Asos, which has free shipping worldwide is also giving Kenyans an opportunity to buy authentic goods from the United Kingdom and other European markets. However, there is a dark side to online commerce.

This upward trend in online shopping has also made it easy for cyber criminals to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers world over with Kenya being one of the biggest casualties in Africa.

ICT cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru has recently been at the forefront sensitising Kenyans about cyber security. Criminals are stealing card information and wiping individual bank accounts clean.

With threat of cyber theft looming, one has to be careful and trade with only credible retailers to avoid losing cash. PD Wikendi sought ways you can shield your cash from criminals while shopping online with your card or mobile payment servives.

Protect personal information

According to information security technologist and inventor of patented technology in the anti-key logging and anti-phishing fields and chief executive SentryBay Corporation, Dave Waterson a simple email address may be where the criminal starts.


Armed with your email address, a criminal is able to send you a phishing email, to entice you to a phishing site where you may enter more personal information such as your name and bank account or credit card details.

The criminal will then enrich the personal information they have by visiting the victims Facebook page, LinkedIn site, or through a Google search. “If the criminal has infiltrated the victim’s PC with malware, they are able to obtain more personal information such as login usernames and passwords, credit card number and date of birth.

The more information the criminal is able to gather, including social security number, phone number, address, – the more the information adds to the value and the likelihood of success in stealing money by impersonating the victim online,” he says.

Once a cyber criminal has possession of your digital identity, he can impersonate you online. Make sure you never give out your mobile money pin.

Don’t use public

Wi-Fi Technology firm Home Telecom advises you to shop from home. It says hackers can easily access public Wi-Fi connections, which means it is safer to make purchases from home than from your favourite coffee shop. Avoid making purchases while connected to airports, hotels or other public hot spots.

Don’t trust social networking sites deals blindly

Do not trust these types of deals, as most URLs are shortened on social media sites. That means you will not know if you are clicking on a legitimate or fraudulent website.

You can use these deals as tips but go directly to the retailer’s site to check for bargains. Home telecom warns against falling for gift card scams. If you receive an email that claims you can receive a gift card and requests your credit card or banking information, delete it. Legitimate retailers will never ask for this type of information.

Download anti-phishing toolbar

If you have not invested in an Anti-Phishing toolbar, consider downloading one. These will help identify fraudulent websites. Many of these toolbars are free.

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