Statistics suggests online shopping sees a 14-percent boost in November compared to the rest of the year in Estonia. But buyer interest also gets taken advantage of by swindlers who create fake online shops and offer unrealistic prices.
"Before making a purchase at an online store, it is necessary to verify its trustworthiness," Kätlin Kukk, security manager for SEB bank, said. "The important thing is to look at the store's address in your browser's address bar. It should start with 'https://' whereas the 's' before the colon is key."
"What comes next needs to include the online shop's real name," Kukk added. "If there are random-looking numbers or letter in the address, the site should not be trusted. Criminals cannot use an identical address of a real online shop and need to make changes in the name. They usually add in spaces, numbers and the like."
Kukk said that analyzing the prices offered by stores is another important step. "If a store offers extremely favorable prices, a more thorough background check wouldn't go amiss. Always Google an online shop's name and do not settle for the top three results. Reports of users not receiving the goods they ordered or other problems might be on page two or three of the results."
"We should take more time to scrutinize new online stores with which we lack positive experience. After all, we like to know who is getting our money or personal information," Kukk said. "Registering as a user at an online shop is not necessarily a bad thing. We usually only part with our name, email address and perhaps phone number in that case. This information merely makes it possible to send us spam."
"It is more important to be vigilant when we are offered to register an account and also enter our credit card information when we're just browsing. Do I really need to leave my card data if I do not wish to make a purchase? Credit card information falling into the hands of criminals could have more serious consequences."
The expert also said why it is important to have different passwords for different sites. "If criminals learn your password on one site, they will obviously try it elsewhere."
"I would also urge people to keep their online transfer and payment card limits low," Kukk said. "To prevent other people from emptying the account if they get access to it. It also pays to pull up a bank statement from time to time. There have been more cases recently where people discover a few dozen euros get transferred from their account to unknown recipients monthly. To be able to get to the bottom of such occurrences before something worse happens," Kukk said.
Editor: Annika Remmel, Marcus Turovski