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Millions of rand are spent shopping online every year. While most transactions will be uneventful,
security on those purchases is not a given.

Tech Tim gives YEI readers
10 tips to help you keep safe this “spending” season.



Create Strong passwords

According to an article on Hosting Tribunal ,the password “123456” is now used by more than 23 million people in the US alone. Of equal use are the words “password” and “qwerty”. More and more people use the same password for multiple accounts and while this may help you remember the passwords, this practice can be detrimental if hackers do get it because they will be able to then hack all of your accounts. 

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.

Use familiar or trusted Sites to do your shopping

While we may “surf” the web and come up with some amazing deals on unheard sites, be careful because some of these may be “too good to be true”. Try and use trusted brands and sites. Be careful of counterfeit sites e.g. those that look like the real deal but are only there to steal your information. The best way to check is to have a look at their URL. For example, our URL is but a hacker may duplicate this and adapt slightly by changing the .za to read .ru or they may spell the name incorrectly such as If you are unsure of a site’s authenticity, then ask a friend or family member for help.

Look for the Lock or Shield

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. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS—instead of just HTTP. An icon of a locked padlock or a ticked shield will appear and this indicates the security of a site.  An example is You’ve Earned It – our address starts with https:// (see below image)/  A well-known bank or popular shopping site will have https:// and will also show the Shield which means that their Encryptions are up to date.

Don’t overshare

Very few online retailers need your I.D number or Birthdate  to buy from them.  However if crooks get these details, they can do a lot of damage. When paying, some online retailers need you to complete your Credit/Debit card details and then ask for the CVV number on the back of your card. Don’t supply this unless you are absolutely sure of the authenticity of the retailer.  Never, ever, ever give this CVV number to anyone who calls you to “confirm” your details over the phone. Your bank account can be cleared before you have even ended the call.

Check your Statements regularly

A lot of people who use internet banking receive texts or notifications from their bank when a transaction is made, don’t consider these a nuisance.  Rather open and check that they are for purchases that you have made.  If in doubt, give your banks fraud hotline a call to confirm. Rather be safe than sorry.

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.

Make sure your computers anti-virus programs are up to date

Tech Tim has previously stressed the importance of having an up-to-date anti-virus installed on your device. This is important as it protects your valuable information from hacking. Read the article at

Privatise your WIFI

Some people may want to take advantage of the free wi-fi at malls, coffee shops or other public places. For many, public wi-fi hotspots are too convenient to ignore. But they’re risky, especially because it’s not that hard to make sure you’re secure. There are, however, some simple things to do to make sure you are safe. 

Pick the Correct Network

Have you ever tried to connect to public wi-fi and seen multiple network names that are similar but not the same? EricsCoffeeHaus versus EriksCoffeeHaus, or HiltonGuest versus HiltonGuests, for example. This is a tried-and-true man-in-the-middle attack used by hackers — dubbed Wi-Phishing—which tries 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. Just ask someone who works there for the proper network name if it’s not posted.

Pick a Secure Network

It’s best to stick to hotspots where the provider—be it a conference, hotel, or coffee shop—provides you with a clear network to choose from, plus a password to grant access. Then you know at least you’re on the network you’re meant to be using.

Avoid shopping in public

What about using your own laptop to shop while you’re out? 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.

Think like a gangster: Sit in the back, facing the door. Use sites that you trust that already have your credit card stored, so you don’t have to pull it out for more than a cake and coffee. Better yet: rather do your online shopping from home.

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.

2 step verification

When possible, use a 2 step verification which is where you add an extra layer of security to your account in case your password is stolen. After you set up a 2-Step Verification, you’ll sign in to your account in two steps using:

  • Something you know, like your password
  • Something you have, like your phone
  • A OTP or One Time Pin sent to your e-mail or cell phone number.

This is also used at times when you are purchasing via your banking app and is just another layer of protection for you.


Whatever you do and however you shop,
it is important to be vigilant.  If you suspect that something is not right,
then report/complain to both your bank and the Retailer involved.
This will ensure that you keep safe and secure.


If you have a question for Tech Tim,
please fill in the form below.


Please note that “Tech Tim” cannot supply immediate or 24/7 assistance.
If you are urgently needing assistance,
please contact an IT company in your area
or contact your children or grandchildren who may be able to assist




Sources:14 Tips for Safe Online Shopping | PCMag



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