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15 essential precautions you need to know about when banking and paying online

Buying onlineOnline payments

  1. Before entering payment details on any website, ensure that the site is secure:
    • There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register.

    • Even with a padlock symbol, the site might still be fraudulent. Check that the web address begins with ‘https://’. (The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.)

    • If you’re using the latest version of your browser, the address bar or the name of the site owner will appear in green.
  2. Always keep your receipts – electronic or otherwise.

  3. Be sure to check your credit card and bank statements carefully after payment to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the transaction.

  4. Check the online security options your bank provides. Some offer free antivirus and browser security software.

  5. Browsers often come with security features built in. Make sure they are activated.

  6. Remember that UCT staff and students can use McAfee for free – so be sure that you have it installed.



Banking safety

  1. Be wary of suspicious looking pop-ups that appear during your banking session. Memorise the process you normally go through to make a payment or transfer, and be suspicious if anything different happens.

  2. Fraudsters sometimes try to trick people into making a real payment by phoning and pretending to be from the bank – claiming the transaction “is just a test”. Never disclose passwords or other personal information in response to an email, phone call or letter purporting to be from your bank or other financial institution. Banks will never send you emails asking you to divulge such information.

  3. Any communication from banks will use your actual name and verify your account details by using security questions.

  4. Keep your PIN (Personal Identification Number), your password, your credit or debit card number PRIVATE. Never write them down anywhere and never share them with anyone. Remember that if someone sees your credit card, they can memorise the numbers and use these to make purchases without your knowledge.

  5. Always use strong passwords and PINs, and use different passwords and PINs for each account or website.

  6. Always check your bank statements and contact your bank immediately if you spot any transactions that you didn’t authorise.

  7. Paper statements can easily be intercepted and read, so consider switching from paper statements to online banking with mobile alerts.

  8. Always install the latest updates and security patches or your operating system when you are prompted to do so.

  9. If you’re around other people, be careful of ‘shoulder surfers’ (people who try to watch what’s happening on your screen).