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Senior woman doing online shopping

Online shopping is booming in South Africa with e-commerce sales rising by 66% last year to more than R30-billion.*

But with it comes the increase in fraud with Transunion reporting that a recent study by Global Consumer Pulse Study that 37% of South African consumers have recently been targeted by Covid-19 related digital fraud.


“Fraudsters are always looking to take advantage of significant world events. The Covid-19 pandemic and its corresponding rapid digital acceleration brought about by lockdowns is a global event unrivalled in the online age,” said Keith Wardell, product director at TransUnion Africa.

“By analysing billions of transactions, we screened for fraud indicators over the past year, it has become clear that the war against the virus has also brought about a war against digital fraud.”

In South Africa across industries, TransUnion found the cities with the highest percent of suspected fraudulent digital transactions against businesses coming from them were Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, in that order.**


What though does this mean for South African seniors who wish to take advantage of Black Friday sales or make purchases online for the Festive season


The YEA team are made aware of Scams on a regular basis that are attempting to separate Seniors from their hard earned pensions and of schemes that defraud South Africans of millions.

YEI’s Tech Tim would like to remind Seniors to be careful with online purchases and has compiled the following tips.


  1. Look for the Lock
    Make sure that you only shop on sites that display a lock image in the tool bar. These indicate that the website and your transactions are protected with valid certificates such as VeriSign or PAyU. Never buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least.
  2. Save your Favourites
    Avoid typing in the wrong address, scammers will use a familiar address and replace certain letters which will take you to their site. These try to trick you into logging into the wrong network to get to your info. Most people don’t take the time to check, and jump on the strongest, open signal they see. But you should always check that you pick the legitimate network.
  3.  Watch out for strange mails, links and sms’s or Whatsapps
    Fraudsters are quite good at mimicking known websites, which enables them to easily create emails with fraudulent links in them that look legitimate. Always be sceptical about offers that seem too good to be true. Certain online ads on social media sites might take you to a fake website that can infect your system with malware. If you have activated two-step authentication then be aware of “strange” messages and do not accept or authenticate unknown requests.
  4. Keep your Anti-viruses up to date
     If you visit a website or download files, you PC may acquire hazardous computer viruses. Some viruses are distributed through emails, free programs, pop-up messages etc. If you insert removable media like CDs, USBs and DVDs which can get infected with a virus, it may put out your files to delete or corrupt. Sometimes, dangerous malicious software would completely damage the system, compromise security or erase important information. So, it is essential to have good Antivirus software to detect and remove viruses before they do harm to your system. Antivirus software, also known as anti-malware, is a computer program used to prevent, detect, and remove malware. 
  5. Use strong passwords
    Make sure that your passwords do not contain personal information, don’t use birthdays, grandchildren’s names, pets names etc. Use things unrelated to you and use letters, numbers interspersed with #, @ and $. Also try to use passwords that have more than 8 characters.
  6. Check your bank statements
    Whether you do online banking or not, check your bank statements regularly to ensure that there are no suspicious transactions or debit orders coming off your account. If you see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only when you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems.  After that, you might be liable for the charges.
  7. Browsers should be kept up-to-date
    The most important reason to keep your browser up-to-date is to keep your computer safe and secure, protecting you from identity theft, phishing attacks, viruses, trojans, spyware, adware, and other sorts of malware. Many browser updates are issued to combat just these problems.
  8. Use two-factor authentication when purchasing online
    It may be an annoyance to have to use an OTP (one-time pin) but this will help protect you from fraudulent activities and will add an extra layer of security to your account in case your password is stolen.
  9.  Use Apps
    Most reputable retailers have Apps that allow you to shop. There’s no real need to be any more nervous about shopping on a mobile device than online. Simply use apps provided directly by the retailers, like Amazon and Takealot, even Mr Delivery or Checkers. Use the apps to find what you want and then make the purchase directly, without going to the store or the website.
  10. Avoid shopping in public
     It’s one thing to hand over a credit card to get swiped at the checkout, but when you have to enter the credit card number plus expiration date plus the CVV 3-digit code on the back into a shopping site while sitting in a public cafe’, you’re giving an over-the-shoulder snooper plenty of time to see the goods.





* South African online retail sales jumped 66% in 2020 – TechCentral

** Shock findings on digital fraud in South Africa – and the one scam you should avoid (


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