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Online shopping. South Africa just got a bit safer.

Despite what many people choose to believe, online shopping can be safe and secure as well as convenient. In fact when compared with the current crime situation in South Africa online shopping poses less risk than walking around with a pocket full of cash.

This article is not advocating staying at home paralysed with fear too scared to go out, itís promoting thinking realistically about the benefits of online shopping in South Africa and realistically comparing the dangers of online shopping to the dangers we all face every day rather than just blindly believing the scaremongering about online shopping.

Statistics will tell you that the credit card fraud rate online is higher than it is offline, this could well just be due to the fact that as the internet grows and becomes more user friendly it is possible that there are more people shopping and banking online and thus sending card details than there are doing so offline. There are a few simple methods and techniques that, if adhered to, can make your online shopping in South Africa a lot safer.

The most important thing to remember if you are a victim of online fraud is that most of the time the vendor or your bank will carry the cost. Vendors are eager to put online shoppers at ease and downplay the potential risks involved with online shopping, add to this the fiercely competitive nature of online shopping in South Africa and you have a market where the customer is always right. So even if your bank tries to stick you with an administration fee after recovering your losses, by creating a bit of fuss you can usually get the vendor to carry that cost as well. So although online fraud can cause a massive inconvenience for the online shopper it is not the end of the world.

This may seem obvious but when providing bank details for online shopping it is important that you are using a reputable online agent, do some research, check online shopping forums or even just ask your friends. A useful thing to look out for is a small image of a lock, this can be found at the top left or the bottom right of the page, this indicates that the vendor is using a type of encryption known as SSL. While not impenetrable, nothing is, it would cost more to crack the code than your credit card details are worth.

The most dangerous place to use credit card details online is not in fact online shopping but rather subscription services and this is often done not through fraud but through deception. The only real advice here is to read the fine print, carefully. Too often subscription services will bury the length of the service in their fine print. Meaning that when you think youíre signing up for a once off event or service you are actually committing to monthly payments via a debit order.

Online shopping can be full of pitfalls and to the uninitiated can seem daunting, but when compared with the prevalence of violent street crime and ATM fraud, online shopping South Africa is probably one of the safest options you have.

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