ZAMBOANGA CITY, Aug. 3 — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has issued online shopping security tips to protect consumers from scammers and scoundrels and to protect their hard-earned money.
The agency issued the security tips as electronic shopping (e-shopping) or online buying has become the norm today. In fact, even established malls, stores, and the likes have resorted to e-shopping so they don’t miss on the millions of consumers in the country.
But online shopping is not perfect. The complexity of today’s technology also leaves vast loopholes for technology-savvy criminals to exploit and prey on “not-so-techy” consumers. Even “techies” fall victims to these unscrupulous people.
The first security tip, and also very logical thing to do, is to use “hard-to-guess” passwords or codes when creating an account for online shopping, Eng’r. Rolando Acuña, DTI assistant regional director, on Thursday said.
Security experts also discourage the use of birth dates, or anything that cane be identified with the user for password or codes. Instead, they advise to use a combination of letters and numbers.
“Using complicated passwords would make your account much secured. It will protect you from hackers and will save you from a lot of problems. Also it is best if you change your password regularly, say every year. This will really protect your account from hackers,” Acuña said.
The second tip is to “only give required information” for the purchase as providing unnecessary data will give hackers access “to your account.”
One take-away to identify scammers is if the advertised item is being sold at a very low price, or are “To-Good-To-Be-True Deals and Discounts.” This is the very common thing scammers do to entice buyers who are looking for cheap buys.
“Either they just want your money that after paying they just disappear, or simply, the item is fake or a knock-off. Either way the buyer is definitely at the losing end,” Acuña pointed out.
However, there are also legitimate sale or discounts that are being offered by refutable companies or e-commerce sites, which brings us to the next tip: “Check the Universal Resource Locator (URL) or website address” of the advertiser. This will ensure the authenticity of the advertisement.
Reading also helps protect buyers from scammers. Unfortunately, most, if not, all online shoppers ignore “Reading the terms, conditions, and payment methods”.
Reading such can help buyers understand all terms and conditions when they buy since there is no way the seller will explain it one by one. It may take a few minutes of the buyer’s time but it will definitely be worth their time and money.
The risk in online buying is that, most of the time, a buyer needs to send the payment first before the seller sends the item. Buying gadgets worth PhP30,000.00 online is no joke. Often times, payment are made through bank deposit or remittance centers. These kind of payment puts the buyer in a “no-win” situation since there is no buyer protection in this method.
There are a lot of online entrepreneurs who use this payment method. Most are legitimate, but some are downright crooks. Established online shops offer secure way of payment aside from the traditional method. Start-ups use the bank deposit or remittance method. The commonly used payment include PayPal, Google Wallet, Amazon Payment, and the likes. It is best for online shoppers to check for secure payment method and see if the seller offer such.
Finally, as in every online accounts, it is highly advised that owners “Log-out their accounts after every transaction.”
While DTI makes sure that the consumers are protected, empowering consumers through information is key to help consumers avoid being victimized by scammers.