One of these days while having a chat with a friend, I learnt how he lost 18 dollars while attempting to make an online book purchase. He paid to a website that never existed as the actual book selling store! Following his loss and the skepticism with which he views online transactions now, he may not use this mode of buying sooner. There are many Ugandans and other people around the world who view online transactions as a straight way for innocent unsuspecting citizens to loose their money.
The fear of losing money online is also coupled with other fears; In economies with weak consumer protection laws, online shoppers have little recourse if they’ve been sold a faulty good. So when they buy something, people prefer to deal with the seller face-to-face, to judge whether or not they are credible. Despite of these fears, if we go by the MasterCard Mobile Readiness Index, that ranked Kenya among the top 5 countries whose populations are ready to make mobile payments for person to person , point of sale, and mcommerce, we can reliably assume that the population in Africa, is slowly getting comfortable with using a phone to make payment and hence we are not far from the true ecommerce and mcomerce era.
As we embrace ecommerce and mcommerce in Uganda and the rest of Africa, security is still a major challenge whether in the developed world on in developing countries. Ecommerce and Mcommerce security will increasing be areas of concern in Uganda and the rest of Africa.
There have been some kind of horror stories of people getting ripped off online or worse yet, having their identity stolen due to an online transaction. In order to protect yourself, here are some of the tips to consider.
- Use your home computer or you own phone when shopping online. Equip this computer/phone with the latest web browser and have a good anti-virus and spy ware program. This is much safer than using a computer at an Internet cafe or the local library.
- Check the connection. If you have a secure connection you should not see an open padlock or broken key symbol on your Internet connection browser. If you see one of these symbols then you should not be entering any financial information because you are not on a secure site. Someone else could intercept your information. Always verify that you have a secure connection.
- When you are going to a site to shop then go there directly by typing in the address. Do not click on an web address that is linked on a message. It doesn’t matter if you know the person who sent you the message, manually type that address in.
- Do you use a third-party payment company such as Pay Pal? This is something to consider. You could also have a low limit credit/debit card that you use for your online transactions. If something does happen then you will limit your losses.
- Buyer beware! If you are browsing auction sites or unauthorized retail sites then be careful of the too good to be true sales. If it is a true designer item or highly popular electronic device then a huge drop in price is not likely. Be aware that there are a lot of people out there prepared to pay close to full price for the real item so what you are looking at is likely a fake.
- Your emails are not private. Others can intercept your email. Do not send financial, personal or confidential information by un encrypted email.
- Check your statements. Your bank statement can be viewed immediately, you do not have to wait for a print out at the end of the month. The same can be said for credit card transactions.