By Clive Mphambela
Whilst the majority of people work hard for their money, fraudsters are also busy creating new ways of tricking the unsuspecting banking public into divulging critical financial details so that they can eventually steal from them.
Last week , we discussed how advances in electronic financial technologies have made our financial lives much easier, but at the same time they have introduced consumers to new sophisticated risks.
The wider use of Electronic Money or Plastic Money has also opened a new frontier of risk for both banks and their customers.
With each passing day, scamsters and tricksters are inventing new and sophisticated ways of taking away peoples hard earned money.
Fortunately, banks have invested huge amounts in building safeguards which protect users of the modern payment channels and enables them to transact securely over these platforms.
However, security breaches do occasionally, usually after clients are unwittingly tricked into divulging critical credentials to criminal.
Last week we spoke about mobile banking security.
We continue this week, with further tips on how we can use the internet banking platforms securely.
How to Conduct Internet Banking and Online Shopping Safely (E-commerce)
The banking public is advised to always be vigilant when transacting over the internet. Here are some useful tips to achieve this.
Make sure to have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed, running, and receiving automatic updates. Ensure that you use a strong and unique password, which is not used for any other accounts. Set an automatic time-out/logout so that access to your device requires password authentication after a fixed period of inactivity.
Use mobile applications with caution. As devices such as smart-phones and tablets, continue to gain popularity for online shopping, so too will the volume of attacks against them.
Malware can easily be downloaded onto the device from seemingly legitimate shopping applications that can steal account and card data and other sensitive information for transmission to cyber criminals. You must update all applications when notified, but do so from trusted sources. Always disable your Bluetooth and Near Field Communications when they are not in use to reduce the risk of your data being intercepted by nearby unauthorised devices.
Know your online merchants.
Limit online shopping to merchants that you know and trust. Only go to web sites by directly typing the URL in the browser address bar. If you are unsure about a merchant, check directly with the merchant if they are doing online payments for example, by calling them.
Look for “https” before you click “Purchase.”
Before you submit your online transactions, make sure that the webpage address begins with “https.”
The “s” stands for secure, and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. A padlock or key icon in the browser’s status bar is another indicator. Also, make sure your browser is current and up-to-date.
Do not respond to pop-ups. Do not respond to pop ups offering instant riches whilst browsing the net. Whenever such pop ups occur, simply close them. Most of them lead to fraudulent websites or even to online scams. Try not to use public computers or public wireless access for your online shopping. Public computers and Wi-Fi hotspots are potentially insecure. Criminals may be intercepting traffic on public wireless networks to steal card numbers and other sensitive customer information.
Care should be taken that the settings on your computer or device prevent it from automatically connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots without your direct instructions.
Be alert for potential charity donation scams and lottery scams. Cyber criminals try to take advantage of people’s generosity and can use fake charity requests as a means to gain access to your information or computer/device. Think before clicking on emails requesting donations.
Do not give your financial or personal information over email or text. Be alert to scams where you are offered a prize for a bogus competition or lottery you never entered. Some criminals send bogus out emails telling you that your bank account details are due to be updated or your funds will be frozen etc. Responding to such emails will usually make you a victim of fraud. Never send your account information, credit or debit card details or passwords via text message or e-mail. These are common phishing scams. Do not fall for it!
Always check with your banker or financial advisor or other knowledgeable professional before sending money via the internet to participate in an unclear investment. ( We will discuss Ponzi and Pyramid Schemes in more detail in the very near future)
Always sign out of your internet account. When you’re finished using your Account, don’t close the browser window without signing out first. This will clear your browser’s cache and protect you from anyone signing in as you.
When you are not sure, just call your bank for advice. Lastly, whenever you are unsure or suspicious about anything on your account or on your electronic banking platform, urgently call your banker for advice and clarification. It could make a big difference between falling a victim and preserving your money.
Clive Mphambela is a Banker. He writes in his capacity as Advocacy Officer for the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe.
BAZ expressly invites stakeholders to give their valuable comments and feedback related to this article to him on [email protected] or on numbers 04-744686, 0772206913