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Be careful as you shop online

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th September 2008 03:00 AM

SHOPPING is just a click away. Instead of braving long cues, wiggling your way through crowds and risking your purse being snatched, you can do it in the comfort of your home or office.

SHOPPING is just a click away. Instead of braving long cues, wiggling your way through crowds and risking your purse being snatched, you can do it in the comfort of your home or office.

By Harriette Onyalla

SHOPPING is just a click away. Instead of braving long cues, wiggling your way through crowds and risking your purse being snatched, you can do it in the comfort of your home or office.

However, while it is exciting and within the reach of anyone who has a debit or credit card, online shopping comes with risks.

“Doing online transactions is good and very convenient, but you can be fleeced,” Denis Okello, an IT specialist at Reach Out project in Mbuya, Kampala, says.

On its website www.ftc.gov, the Federal Trade Commission, the US government consumer protection arm, advises that before attempting to shop online, you need to know the risks so that you can deter, detect and defend yourself against internet fraud.

Okello says the first step to guard against internet fraud is ensuring that your computer is secure. He says your computer can be secured by a server which encrypts personal information to keep others from using it.

When connected to a secure server, most browsers (like Netscape or Internet Explorer) will show a closed padlock at the bottom of your computer screen and will switch from http to https.

“There are computer programmes which trace the information which has been entered into a particular computer so if you think that someone else might trace your personal information, do not use that computer.

Internet Cafés are particularly unsafe. Someone can use your information to steal your money,” he warns.

According to www.msnbc.msn.com, some sites like eBay, Walgreens, iTunes or Dell require you to open a PayPal account before making an online purchase.

On other sites like www.amazon.com, you can buy from third-party sellers.www.msnbc.msn.com offers some tips on how you can navigate the world of cyber shopping safely.

Take time to understand how PayPal or any other shopping system works. You might delay to make a ‘hot’ purchase by another 30 minutes but that half hour might save you from Internet fraudsters.

However, a service like PayPal can protect you as online merchants cannot see your personal debit or credit card information. “They just receive money from PayPal, an eBay company,” the site says.

Secondly, decide how you want to pay. PayPal withdraws money straight from your bank account rather than charge purchases to your credit card.

If you want to pay with your credit card, you must adjust the payment setting by clicking the “More Funding Options” link before you pay.

If you choose to pay using a credit card, check for the master lock at the bottom of the browser before feeding in any information.

Be careful as you shop online

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