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One of the rea­sons South Africans have been rel­a­tively slow in join­ing the on­line shop­ping party is be­cause we’re scared of tap­ping in our credit or debit card de­tails.

But shop­ping on­line, says Vin­cent Hoog­duijn, CEO of Me­dia24’s e-com­merce di­vi­sion, is ac­tu­ally safer than buy­ing in a shop, where you’re at the mercy of card skim­mers, mug­gers and pick­pock­ets.

You just need to en­sure you keep your credit card se­cure by us­ing strong pass­words, keep­ing them safe and be­ing alert to phish­ing or hack­ing at­tacks.

Vin­cent ex­plains that many peo­ple are un­aware “that if you use your credit card on­line, you’re in­sured.

“If some­one steals your credit card de­tails and makes a fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tion on­line, you can con­tact your bank or credit card com­pany and they do an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and you get re­im­bursed.

“But if you pay up­front through EFT, for in­stance, it’s very dif­fi­cult to get those funds back if some­thing goes wrong.”

Look for the lit­tle pad­lock icon next to the web­site’s ad­dress, which should start with https – the ‘s’ in­di­cates the page is se­cure.

If you come across a new web­site and spot a prod­uct you like but you’ve never heard of the com­pany, Google it and look for re­views or ask around. You’ll soon find out if it’s le­git or not.

And re­mem­ber the age-old wis­dom: while there are bar­gains to be had, if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it’s a scam.

Rep­utable sites will cal­cu­late the ship­ping cost of your or­der be­fore you’re asked to pay – if they don’t, you should pro­ceed with cau­tion.

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