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Shopping online: How to protect yourself

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Identity theft happens when criminals deliberately set out to gather and collect someone else's information such as their name, date of birth, address where they live. This information can be found on documents often thrown into the bin or if that person's online account has been hacked.

After identity theft happens, the thief/criminal usually goes on to commit identity fraud. Identity fraud is the deliberate use of someone else's identity to commit a financial crime by buying goods/services, pretending to be someone else, using their card/bank details.

Here are strategies to help protect you against identity theft and fraud while shopping online:

  • Manually type in the URL/website address of the place where you want to shop online. Sometimes just searching for a store can lead you to visiting websites that look like the place you want to buy from but they are not authentic.

  • Use a credit card to purchase things online as most credit card companies protect you against fraud however, once the money is out of your bank account by using your debit card, it is much harder to prove that this was a fraudulent transaction.

  • Use a recognised, online payment system such as PayPal or Google Wallet to send and receive money online as they can protect you against fraud.

  • When making a payment online, ensure the page has a lock in the browser window, the address begins with https:/ (not just http) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is present or a pop-up page informs you that you are entering a secure part of the website.

  • Use strong passwords and change/update them regularly on websites that hold your account details to make it more difficult for others to access your account.

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