Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Despite the global recession, experts predict online retail shopping to grow. Online retail demand, in Kenya, will be boosted by the imminent arrival of several submarine cable systems this year.

Online shopping is un-disputably more cost effective and faster than the traditional commute from one duka to the other. Comparing prices and bargains is merely a click away.

The current global recession will prompt more Kenyans to consider shopping online in search of better bargains. Following closely behind are the scammers who, also due to the recession, will increase their presence in the internet.

Kenyans need to be more vigilant and aware of the pitfalls that exist in this electronic supermarket. We can never be too careful and this message needs to be constantly repeated.

I have outlined some golden rules one should adhere to if you are to shop online and come out unscathed.

Never go shopping without ensuring that your personal firewall is enabled and updated. Standard firewalls included with operating systems are insufficient. They do not adequately control outbound connections. By installing a reputable firewall you will be able to monitor and prevent sending out of your shopping data on the internet by malware.

Online shopping is synonymous with credit cards. This is the Achilles heel of e-commerce. To be able to protect yourself you should ensure that your cards are registered with online providers such as MasterCard SecureCode that verify your transactions via a private code.

It is also prudent to use only one card for online shopping. Never use multiple cards or mix normal purchases with your online credit card. Maintain the limit for this card to be as low as possible. Better still, use a top-up card for your online purchases.

Remember that your bank provides you more security guarantees with a credit card than a debit card. So avoid debit cards for online shopping otherwise you might be exposing yourself to exploiters.

Checking your card statements regularly for any irregular activity is a good habit. Scammers use small transactions over a long period of time so as to avoid detection. That 400 bob that cannot be explained in the statement is warning enough.

On the site you should always check for the little padlock at the bottom right hand corner of the Internet Explorer browser. This confirms that an encryption key has been activated for your data transmission.

Also make an effort of checking the site’s privacy policy. Check for details of how your personal information will be used and try to provide only the required minimum information.

Adhering to these few rules will help you keep the scammers at bay. Embrace online shopping but keep it safe.

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