ALTHOUGH online shopping can be convenient, especially during the busy festive season, one of the dangers involved in the practice is scammers who trick shoppers into giving up their credit card numbers and personal information. According to Hillcrest SAPS communications officer Captain Linzi Smith, online shopping is good but only if you look for reputable sites and stick to them because you know that they are not a scam.The captain relayed a case where a man who shops online had received a call, supposedly from his bank, whereby the person wanted to verify all his details for his online shopping. “They had all his details including his credit card number. It was only when they asked for the three digit number (CVV) on the back of the card that he became suspicious. He refused to give it to them and then he asked for their details and number and said he would phone them back. He contacted the bank only to find out that he was being scammed,” explained Smith. “There are people out there taking advantage of online shoppers. Anybody who chooses to shop online must be cautious when registering their cards and be vigilant when they receive calls asking for details,” the captain said. She advised that the people who want to embark on a journey of online shopping should check for reputable sites.“If you are cautious and want to try it out, you should make the necessary enquiries on reputable sites, friends and start with small items. “All the sites you are using, you should make sure that they have customer services that you can personally contact if you encounter any problem with your order,” she said.The captain also said that you shouldn’t spend thousands of rands on items but you should buy the little things that you won’t regret spending money on if the item doesn’t arrive in time.“Online shopping has become so popular now that parcels are taking longer to get to you from Johannesburg than from overseas to Johannesburg,” she said.Chief Executive Officer at ESET South Africa, Carey van Vlaanderen, said that shopping online is convenient, and when the festive season arrives, it also means you can avoid the crowds. “Unfortunately the holiday season is also a great time for online scammers,” she said.Van Vlaanderen gave some safety tips for online shoppers to avoid falling prey to online shopping scams.“You should watch out for offers that are too good to be true — if you see deals that are too good to be true, it’s because they probably are. This is an easy way for scammers to get you to divulge your private and/or financial information, by selling non-existent goods,” she said.“The December holiday is peak season for online scammers to profit. To avoid being one of the victims, keep up to date on their latest tactics. “For example; ransomware can be delivered in the form of an invoice, as was the case in last year’s Locky Ransomware. Remember, education is one of the best forms of defence,” van Vlaanderen said.She advised that buyers should protect themselves and must only buy from well-known, reputable stores or sellers.“Some scammers set up highly elaborate and genuine looking websites. Don’t be fooled and do your due diligence. “Read the online views, ask around in forums and, if you’re buying high-priced items, check the seller’s credentials in their country of origin,” she advised.The CEO also said that although no payment method is impervious to fraud, some methods are safer than others. “Credit cards are a good means of payment when shopping online, because banks keep a close eye out for fraudulent activity and charges. Most banks have a zero-liability policy on their credit cards that protects cardholders against credit card-related theft and fraud. “So, if you are unfortunate enough to have been scammed, you can alert the card issuer to dispute the charge and get it reversed quickly,” she explained.She added that you should always check that sites offer the ability to pay securely, saying:“check to see the site is secured and look for web addresses starting with https. This ensures your payment information being sent in the transaction is encrypted and can’t be intercepted and stolen.”In conclusion, Van Vlaanderen advised that online shoppers should install an antivirus solution and keep the software up-to-date.“Keep your operating system and software on your devices up-to-date. This can help prevent malicious software and hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in your system and causing havoc,” she concluded.