How To Ensure Your Online Transactions Are Safe
For first timers, a financial transaction is one of those activities performed online that have the potential to unnerve. After all, it’s a matter of security of your bank account, and credit or debit card. Theft here can leave you poorer by your lifetime savings, or indebted for lakhs to a bank.
I am reminded of this conversation I once had with an acquaintance, “Varun… I am giving you some money in cash. I want you to buy something for me online… right now. I don’t want COD because I have the money now, but won’t have it when they deliver.” “All right, sure. But why are you giving it to me in cash? You can buy the product online by paying them?” I was incredulous when I heard the response, “No! I don’t trust online banking and transactions. I always feel they will hack my account and steal my money.” “So why me,” I asked. “You do this all the time. You trust online banking. I don’t,” pat came the reply.
As mentioned, I had a hard time believing when I first heard this. But come to think of it – for those not in the habit of buying things online outside of the Cash on Delivery (COD) model – having to transact online can be a matter of concern and fear. Frankly speaking, even those who transact online often, ensure they are on a secure connection, on an official website, with a security certificate in the web presence.
So here are some steps and methods for you to take, in order to ensure that your online transactions are safe:
Confidential information is confidential for a reason: Your passwords, PIN numbers, CVV number, etc., are crucial for the safety of your online banking properties. I know every bank tells you this – but one cannot reiterate this enough that all these details are to be guarded and protected. You must not share this with anyone.
Choosing a secure password: The days when you could get away with a silly password like ‘john1234’ have long gone. Keeping a simple password that anyone can guess is akin to handing the keys of your locker, to a thief. Choose a complicated password that only you are likely to know. Alpha-numeric is best and remember – your name, your wife’s name, or your ex’s name are not good ideas.
Look for the tiny lock icon: The icon of a small lock at the corner of the website address in a browser denotes that the site you are one is reasonably secure.
Check the URL: Yes – having a lock icon isn’t reason enough for you to start feeling all warm and fuzzy about the site asking for your money. Well, at least not just yet. Ensure that you are on a proper domain (strictly for the purpose of an example, let’s say you are trying to pay your Airtel Mobile bill. Check that you are on the official website of the telecom giant. If you are on a site such as airtel.paybillonline1234.com, you can be certain it is a malicious site with the sole intent of phishing for your details and yes, your money.)
Keep your computer secure: Don’t forget to install all the necessary anti-virus, malware detection and security tools and updates on your computer. If it may seem tedious to you, there are small time computer servicing companies that do it for you, at a nominal fee.
Avoid doing transactions on a publicly used computer: As much as you can, refrain from using a computer that is used by a number of people. Even if you have to, ensure the points mentioned above are factored in. Once you’re done, remember to clear history. We’re sure you know how to do that.
Don’t click on links from unknown senders: Even if a mail escapes your mail service provider’s Spam filter and makes its way into your inbox, it doesn’t take away the fact that it could be a phishing scam. Clicking on a link in any such email could install malicious data, viruses and malware on your computer. It could also install trackers that capture your online banking details and have them sent to scamsters.
The steps mentioned above are important if you wish to keep your online transactions safe and secure. If followed diligently, these will help safeguard your personal information and banking details.