5 Ways To Avoid Credit Card Fraud When Shopping Online


CompareGuru recently published 10 Tips on How Not to be a Victim of Card Skimming. A helpful guide to avoid credit card fraud. For example, your debit and credit cards being cloned. But, the majority of the tips, sourced from South Africa’s major banks, were aimed at protecting your actual physical card at ATMs and paypoints.

A recent investigation by Dutch developer, Willem de Groot, has revealed that hackers are now targeting thousands of online stores for online card skimming. In other words, stealing users’ credit card information to sell on the dark web. We look at five ways to avoid becoming a victim.

17 Compromised SA Sites

According to de Groot, hackers have installed credit card skimming scripts on thousands of online shopping sites. Hackers are able to gain access to a site’s source codes via security flaws. They then tap the site, similar to how you would tap a phone.

The cybercriminal/s in question install a Javascript wiretap that transports payment information to an offshore server. The scary part is that these wiretaps can operate without being detected by the user or the site owner.

De Groot said the reason that card skimming is so effective is it’s hard to detect. Furthermore, it’s near impossible to trace the the credit card theft.

He published a list of 5900 compromised online stores (including many in South Africa), on Github. He was contacted by many incensed site owners claiming their sites had not been compromised (despite his hard evidence) and who threatened to sue. The list has since been taken down.

MyBroadband tested the 17 South African websites that were mentioned on the original list and reported that all of them raised red flags for anti-malware software and browser warnings. The following is the list they published after informing the sites of their intention to go live:

  1. bridalinc.co.za
  2. collections.audi.co.za
  3. ethicalpods.co.za
  4. goldenwest.co.za
  5. gudgudbuy.co.za
  6. healthcart.co.za
  7. kenpowertools.co.za
  8. kingsleyheath.co.za
  9. medibeds.co.za
  10. ord-er.co.za
  11. popshopfun.co.za
  12. purechild.co.za
  13. redfern.co.za
  14. snugglybum.co.za
  15. teaflower.co.za
  16. uprotect.co.za
  17. woodster.co.za

How To Avoid Online Credit Card Fraud

While most banks do offer insurance against credit card card theft, it’s still a a major pain and can take days or even weeks to be reimbursed. As with most things, prevention is better than cure, so here are five tips for preventing credit card fraud.

1. Bookmark Trusted Sites

Fraudsters have been known to mimic well-known sites and they’re excellent wordsmiths who send legitimate-looking emails with fraudulent links. To avoid typing in the wrong address, or clicking a bad link, bookmark your most trusted shopping sites.

2. Protect Your Computer By Upping Your Cyber Security

There are so many ways to ensure you’re not vulnerable to hackers. Keep your operating systems, browsers, and apps up to date. It’s easy and you have no excuse not to. Cybercriminals can also hack a six-letter password in under 10 minutes. So make sure yours is longer than eight characters, is case sensitive, and throw in some numbers. Also, wherever possible, use two-factor authentication, like the OTP (one-time PIN).

3. Don’t Shop In Public

Do your online shopping in safe places with secure wifi you trust. Public Wi-Fi, like in shopping centres and restaurants, carries a big risk of being intercepted by hackers. And, while we’re on the topic, change your home Wi-Fi password every month, too.

4. Follow The Signs

When you’re transacting online, there’s a number of things you can look for to indicate that the site is secure. Look for the lock image on the toolbar, VeriSign certificates (that are valid), and secure payment systems like PayU. Also, when entering credit card or personal information, check that the web address reads ‘https://’ and not just ‘http://’. The ‘s’ indicates an encryption that scrambles the information as it’s entered.

5. Triple-Check Your Statements

Whenever you buy anything online, print the receipt, or save it to cross-reference with your bank statement. Check regularly for any unverified or duplicate transactions, and fraudulent charges on your accounts. And no, itemised billing does not count as credit card fraud.


About Author

CompareGuru is the first truly independent online platform in South Africa that sources and provides a comprehensive comparative service of product options, with a focus on financial services including banking and insurance, as well as mobile and broadband. Through regular and in-depth market research, CompareGuru provides side-by-side comparisons that help consumers make informed decisions. At CompareGuru, we believe in the maxim that knowledge is power, and we strive to maximise the value for each consumer with clear, concise and up-to-date information. For more information visit http://compareguru.co.za/.