During COVID isolation, online buying has gone through the roof, with the almost inevitable increase in internet scams. Since the outbreak began, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website Scamwatch has received over 2700 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus with over $1,114,000 in reported losses nationally.
Scams and cyberattacks can happen close to home. In my blog, I’ve written about a number of my Port Macquarie-based business clients who had their web-based email services hacked, while another four targeted at random collectively were forced to pay digital extortionists over $30,000 in ‘ransom’ to have critical business data released.
Clearly, no-one’s immune. But, whether you bank via the internet or simply shop online, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your money.
Security by a factor of two
Many of the websites you currently use ask for a username and password before granting you access. Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) adds an extra step to the log-in process and an extra layer of protection.
An example is the prompt that asks you to check your phone for a SMS text or your email for a code which then needs to be inputted into the PC or webpage.
The strength of 2FA is that the code or passphrase changes every time. So even if a hacker gets your username or password, 2FA makes it impossible for them to log in.
Most banks provide 2FA. Some offer it when you set up your account, others require you to request it. Unlike many other banking services, setting up two-factor authentication is free with most banks, and simple to setup and use.
Buying or selling? PayPal is your pal
In the early days of the internet, making purchases online required you to provide the e-commerce website with your credit card details. As you can guess, many people lost money to internet crooks.
Then along came PayPal in 2002. It’s brilliantly simple – and totally secure.
After you open an account, PayPal pays the seller on your behalf for the goods or service you’ve bought. Once the purchase is confirmed your credit card is debited.
There are no fees or ongoing costs and 99.5% of e-commerce sites support PayPal. What’s in it for PayPal? It charges the seller a small percentage of the purchase price.
The advantage of using PayPal is that only you and PayPal get to see your credit card details – they are never given out to third parties. If you are not already using PayPal, simply follow these steps:
- Open an account at https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/home
- Provide your credit card details.
- When making a purchase, select PayPal as your method of payment.
Buyer protection offers peace of mind
For extra peace of mind, both banks and PayPal offer buyer protection. Call your bank for the details of what’s included – and what’s not.
As for PayPal, if there’s a problem with a transaction it investigates and puts your funds on hold until the issue is resolved. PayPal processes 25 currencies in over 200 markets around the world to make sending, spending, and selling simple and secure.
Got questions about internet security using your business or home computer? I’d love to answer them – please call me on (02) 6583 9290 or pop in to Shop 15, The Hub Centre, Bellbowrie Street in Port Macquarie.
Shop 15, The Hub Centre