Christmas is officially in the air. The parols are out, Jose Mari Chan is dominating the airwaves, and Filipinos are checking off items on their holiday shopping lists. The festive season also brings with it the stress of navigating heavy traffic and long lines at retail stores. That’s why many opt for online shopping instead.
Ecommerce continues to gain popularity in the Philippines, with convenience and security being the key drivers for this trend. And why not shop online? The bargains are there, the selection is vast, and payment is convenient.
With online shopping expected to increase in the weeks leading up to December, opportunistic cybercriminals will be looking to prey on vulnerable online shoppers. According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, the Philippines was the fifth-most targeted country after Algeria, Nepal, Albania, and Djibouti. This was attributed to the general carelessness and lack of online security awareness among Filipino Internet users, leading to a large number of drive-by download attacks.
But being aware of these threats can ensure that your time spent after Boxing Days with loved ones and not customer service representatives. PayPal, one of the world’s leading commerce enablers, offers practical tips on staying safe while shopping online this season.
- Only shop on secure websites. Start at a trusted site. Search results can sometimes lead you astray, and sales on other sites might look enticing, but make a few checks before giving up your info to any website.
Look out for the padlock icon on sites and ensure that they start with “https” before entering your account information and password. This means that the site is secure and any financial or personal details that you provide are encrypted.
To be extra careful, a quick check to see if this website has a social media presence can uncover reviews to see if there are concerns raised by other customers.
Also, beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are some of the oldest tricks in the book.
- Use a strong password. A secure, unique password for each of your online accounts is never more important than when banking and shopping online. A strong password should be: more than 8 characters long; use upper case, lower case, a number, and a special character; not a word or date associated with you; a combination of words with unusual capitalization, numbers, or a special character; and most importantly, something you can remember.
But even a perfect password isn’t perfect. Another option is to use a password manager to create virtually uncrackable passwords for you. It’ll also keep track of them and enter them, so you don’t have to think about it.
- Opt for 2-factor authentication. Having 2-factor authentication can prevent the loss of confidential information & can prevent data from being hacked. This security measure has been used to control access to sensitive data and systems, and online services are increasingly introducing 2-factor authentication to prevent their users’ data from being hacked. It also prevents fraudulent transactions when someone tries to transact using your data.
- Use Trusted Online Payment Systems. Link your credit card to your PayPal account to not just shop securely, but to also enjoy rewards such as cash back’s and rebates as well. Aside from being able to link multiple credit cards to your account, using PayPal to complete your online purchases keeps your financial details more secure while still enabling you to enjoy the rewards associated with each card (contact your card issuer for details).
PayPal’s Buyer Protection policy also covers eligible purchases, should anything go wrong with your purchase.
- Beware of Phishing Emails. During key shopping periods like the Christmas season, you are likely to be swamped with festive e-mailers from your favorite online stores telling you about their fabulous promotions. While it may be tempting to click through, keep a lookout for tell-tale signs that it could be a phishing email.
PayPal’s world-class cyber defense center provides coverage 24/7, 365 days a year. Through coordinated efforts, the company has successfully shut down 500,000 fraudulent websites annually. Look out for potential red flags, such as poor grammar or spelling, and URLs and domains that don’t match the sender before clicking through the links.