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Growth & Jobs |Be cautious when shopping online – security experts

Published:Tuesday | December 8, 2020 | 12:12 AM

Security experts are urging consumers to be cautious when shopping online, using a credit card, or making cash transactions this holiday season, based on the usual increase in fraudulent and criminal actives at this time of year.

Recently, payment analytics firm Nilson Report revealed that consumers are increasingly using this option, with transactions expect to reach US$1 trillion globally by 2027. However, it adds that credit card fraud will reach approximately US$40.63 billion that same year. Nilson also pointed out that customers are not the only ones affected by fraud, as banks and merchants are also impacted, hence security experts are urging caution.

“Many persons prefer shopping online because of the convenience; and in these times, the safety. However, using your credit or debit card online comes with risks. Therefore, when shopping online, the first thing to check is whether or not the website is secure. This can be quickly determined by the use of the HTTPS protocol and the visibility of a lock icon, usually green in colour, near the URL. This ensures that all data on the website is encrypted,” explained Dwayne Brown, senior manager, Cyber Security at The Jamaica National Group.

“Also, check the website’s URL to see if it is a legitimate company, or if the website is on a blacklist of fraudulent websites. You should also check privacy policy. A website’s privacy policy should clearly communicate how your data is collected, used and protected by the website,” he added.

Brown said that shoppers sometimes saved their card information to e-commerce websites because of the ease which it provides when making payments. However, he advised against that practice.

“Saving credit card information on a website is a personal preference. The feature allows users to utilise their payment method more efficiently whenever new purchases might be made. However, as best as possible, I would not suggest that you save your credit card details, because no matter how a website is reported as safe, there is always the risk of people accessing your information if it is stored by a third party,” he explained.

“If you are using a debit card and it becomes compromised, the funds being spent are directly from your bank account. In the case of the credit card, the funds being spent are from your bank and if caught early, an alert can be made and a fraudulent credit card dispute process can ensue.” Brown noted.

He stated that shoppers should only add to their PayPal accounts when they are about to make a purchase; and pointed out that, “PayPal functions like an online wallet. Whatever you put in it, is what will be available to use for online transactions; and one should only add to PayPal when you will be using it,” he noted.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Dahlia Garrick, of the Constabulary Communications Unit, adds that shoppers should also be careful while conducting face-to-face transactions using a card.

“Whenever you go to shop, never let your card out of your sight, because this one of the ways to clone cards. Also, persons should always protect their PINs. Never give it to anyone, especially when at a point-of-sale terminal,” she advised.


The DSP pointed out that in addition to securing their cards, persons should also be vigilant when using ATMs.

“Persons should take note of their surroundings before going into an ATM and use one in public spaces,” she advised. “It is also best to use one in a well-lit area at nights; and one which is attached to a location where there are persons who can render assistance, if needed.”

DSP Garrick added that transactions which require persons to carry around large sums of cash should be kept to a minimum.

“It is best to use a card, to do an online transaction, or use a manager’s cheque for transactions that require you to get large sums of money,” she stated.

Mr Horace Hines, general manager, JN Money Services, owners and operators of the JN Money brand, adds that with remittance transactions increasing during the Christmas period, recipients should also be cautious when collecting their funds.

“One of the first things to do is try to encourage your relatives overseas to explore sending funds directly to your bank account, or to a JN Money card. These methods eliminate the need to join lines, or enter a money transfer outlet, thereby reducing the attention on you. Also, always be vigilant when using an ATM,” he said.

Although urging caution with online and cash transactions, DSP Garrick added that personal safety during the period was also important.

“Owing to large volumes of rainfall this year, there is an increase of vegetation in many communities and around homes. I advise homeowners to also cut down overgrown plants and trees, which may be used as a hiding place for criminals. Also ensure that areas around your house are well lit. Your personal safety is also important; therefore, I cannot overemphasise the need to be vigilant and be safe during this period,” she advised.