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8 tips to help you shop online securely

Image Credit: TheNewAfrica

Image Credit: TheNewAfrica

With just a click of a mouse or touch on a screen, buyers all over the world can purchase nearly any product online; from foodstuffs to cars, from clothing’s to houses. The world of e-commerce enables buyers to shop online at over a thousand online stores and pay for their purchases from wherever they are, whether at home, work, school or beach.

These days you just lay back, grab your phone or laptop, get online and log in directly to your online store whether it is VenditoJumia, Kaymu, Kupatana or Checki and do your shopping. That’s how E-commerce has made life easy.

Just as shoppers should take measures to protect their PIN numbers when checking out in a physical store, they also need to take sensible precautions when shopping online.

We are sharing these tips to help make your online shopping experiences safe:

Always purchase all your products at secure websites
Always mind what website you use when shopping, not all E-commerce websites are safe for you. Secure sites use encryption technology to transfer information from your computer to the online merchant’s computer. During the process of paying for the product you have purchased, your details such as your; Credit card number, PIN Numbers are scrambled by the encryption technology.

Here’s a few hints to help you know whether the site you’re using is secure:

When you look in the address bar, where the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is placed, if you see the address beginning with http and ends with “s” or if the address has a green padlock at the start, then the site you’re using is safe and you’re good to go.

The address will have to look like:

Keep your password and pins private
Before you do any purchasing, you’ll have to first signup with that very online shopping site of your choice. When signing up for an account, this usually requests for a username, email address, billing details, passwords and so forth.

Most browser give you an option of it remembering your password or saving it, which should be avoided. Never save your credentials on your computer, or any other gadget as this exposes you to being defrauded by anyone who accesses your account.

Also, when signing up for these accounts, NEVER use common passwords that can be easily guessed. Try and use strong passwords, with symbols, numbers, special character, upper and lower cases. 

Let your password look like: =;E^}5?2s4l22^p and not 123456.

Pay on delivery
Now in Uganda, many people are new to this online shopping thing and some online shops are also new and haven’t had a chance to build a reputation.

There are also several individual sellers, where you can’t be sure about the product since this individual is different from the company that owns the shopping site. And with many classified and shopping groups on Facebook, there are also many transactions happening off any particular shopping site.

In such cases where you aren’t comfortable parting with your cash in advance, you can pay on delivery if the seller offers that option.

HelloFood is an example of a website that gives you the option to order for your food online and then pay either by Mobile Money or by cash on delivery.

Pay with a credit card
When using a debit card for shopping, it removes/deducts money straight from your bank account and getting it back in an event of fraud is a bit hard. Your liability with a debit card depends on how soon you report the situation, however, when you pay with a Credit card, you have permitted protection against fraud, limiting your liability.

Pay by Mobile Money

A screenshot of the step where you are prompted to confirm the identity of the person you are sending money to when transaction on MTN Mobile Money

In the event that you have ordered for an item which you’re paying for at delivery, you can still pay by Mobile Money. This has its advantages, including giving you an electronic record of your payment to this individual or company, and also helps you identify the seller.

In the case of buying from individuals on Facebook and websites like Jumia and OLX, there’s always a chance that the seller is giving you an item that is stolen. You might buy a smartphone and a few months later get arrested for it. If you paid him by Mobile Money, you can always follow the money trail with the Police and the Telecom company.


Don’t Fall for “Phishing” Messages
Phishing is when a person, most likely a hacker or identity thief attempts to acquire your personal details such as usernames, passwords, credit card details often for malicious reasons.

Mostly these hackers and identity thieves send spam emails to internet users asking them to update or re-send their account information for their banks or credit cards or their popular shopping sites. Usually phishing emails that have links that might look just like official e-commerce you’re used to, so you have to be careful not to enter your personal details in a link you entered in email. Also, as I mentioned above, always ensure to check if those links provided to you are secure.

Purchase items that have a guarantee / warranty
Most times we purchase products whether online or offline, we need guarantee or warranty that whatever we’ve bought is genuine. No one wants to buy a product that is design or made to last for years, only for it to stop working after a few weeks or months. If it had factory defects, a warranty gives you the peace of mind that you can get it fixed or replaced.

So as you purchase all your products online, always ensure that they have a guarantee or warranty on them.

According to Jumia, at times, things go wrong with these products. Luckily, their brands are committed to their customers as much as they are. They show that commitment through warranties.

Image Credit: Jumia

Always Print or Save Copies of Your Orders
After placing your order online, maybe you bought that MacBook Air you always wanted or those fancy pants, you always receive a confirmation page that reviews what you’ve purchased. This confirmation page normally contains the costs of the order, your customer information, product information, and the confirmation number.

It’s recommended you always print out or save a copy of these confirmation page(s) describing the item you ordered or purchased as well as the page showing company name, postal address, phone number, and legal terms, including return policy. Plus the confirmation messages you receive on your email.

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