Guiding consumers since 2009

Bank and shop online with confidence

By Staff Writer
Bank and shop online with confidence

Be Card Wise Drive: Online safety

South Africans are increasingly using the Internet as a convenient channel to access their banking services, as well as research and make purchases.

Therefore First National Bank and Visa are observing the Be Card Wise Drive from 21 to 27 September to draw attention to safe practices when using bank cards online, the potential risks that can be presented by the Internet - and the measures you need to avoid them.

There are approximately five million South Africans online, according to www.internetworldstats.com, an increase of some 112.5% since 2000. As more people go online, online banking and financial transactions are becoming increasingly popular; Jacques Celliers, CEO of FNB Credit Card, says it has almost 800 000 online banking customers.

"Online banking has emerged as an enormously popular solution given the convenience, security and ease of use it brings to customers. If used with the right precautions in place, such as an appropriately configured computer with a firewall activated, an antivirus solution and up-to-date software Internet banking is highly secure," says Celliers.

Fraudsters, of course, are always on the lookout for a quick buck.

"Online fraud takes place in a number of ways; generally it involves the fraudster using technology or trickery to access a customer's details, such as their bank card or Internet banking login details," Celliers continues.

This can be done by ‘phishing' attacks, where an email purporting to be from a financial institution tricks a customer into sending their details to the criminal and through ‘spoof' websites which imitate the site of the real institution. "A simple phone call can also trick a customer into parting with sensitive information," adds Celliers.

He says fraudsters often apply the concept of ‘social engineering' to trick unwitting customers; a technique that involves the fraudster gaining the confidence of the customer with plausible and often official-sounding contact by email or telephone.

When shopping online, he says consumers should only access sites that are trusted and recognised as online retailers.

"Never enter your credit card details into suspicious online sites as they can be intercepted by criminals. While your financial institution typically will offer protection, the illegal gains from credit card fraud are often used by criminals to fund other dangerous activities; therefore we all have a duty to make our society crime free and safe," he adds.

Card issuing companies like Visa are also working to eliminate online fraud through initiatives like Verified by Visa, which requires the use of a PIN in addition to the entry of credit card details for online purchases.

When using online banking, Celliers adds that customers should make use of all the security solutions available, such as FNB's DigiTag device which generates a random code, and its inContact solution, which sends an SMS to the customer at every login.

Celliers says the convenience of online banking and shopping can continue to be enjoyed by customers if they follow a few simple rules. These include:

Avoid using public terminals (such as Internet cafes) for Internet banking (these can have ‘keyloggers' secretly installed, which can record your username and password).

Ensure that you have an updated anti-virus and spyware programme and perform regular system scans.

Never access an important website via a link. Rather type the address into the browser address bar or save the address as a 'Favourite'.

Do not open other websites while logged into online Banking; only have a single browser window open.

Choose a User ID and password that cannot be easily guessed and change these regularly.

Ensure your computer software is up-to-date.

Check for the padlock in the lower right of your browser window (it indicates a secure site). You can click on this padlock to verify the site "owners".

When you complete your online banking tasks, log off and close the browser window.

Never provide your password over the Internet (by email) or over the telephone to anyone (including persons identifying themselves as bank officials).

Don't trust a PDF payment proof unless verified by the bank - these documents can be manipulated by fraudsters.

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