Ever since the world shifted to the new normal, consumer habits have also changed. With lockdowns and social distancing protocols in place, people have turned to the Internet for their retail needs. Here are 5 safety tips when shopping online in the UAE.
Online shopping in the UAE gained traction after the coronavirus pandemic hit. A Mastercard study reveals that 54% of consumers in the UAE expect the online shopping trend to escalate compared to in-store purchases. In addition, survey results shared by the Dubai Police, Dubai Economy, and Visa see an uptick when it comes to UAE shoppers choosing digital payments over cash transactions.
Furthermore, a February 2020 Statista report on the use of online shopping in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region since the COVID-19 outbreak showed that 34% of respondents in the UAE shopped online more frequently than pre-pandemic numbers.
By July 2020, the Global Consumer Insights Survey COVID-19 Pulse also indicated a rise in figures regarding the pandemic impact on Middle East consumers. The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report found that 92% of consumers are likely to continue online shopping even after COVID-19.
However, along with the ease and convenience that online shopping affords customers, there is also a cybercrime threat. First-time online shoppers are said to be particularly vulnerable. That is why it is critical to be aware of the steps to protect yourself once you go online.
Below, we have enumerated steps for practicing safe shopping Online in the UAE:
1. Shop from a reputable online store.
Grocery items, clothing, pet supplies, professional audio equipment — there is certainly a wide range of choices for online shopping items. Since the trend has shifted from in-person transactions to online shopping, more and more stores are setting up an online retail arm.
However, not all online stores are created equal. You also have to be discerning when shopping online. Some online shoppers fall prey to click-bait ads on social media or tempting offers on websites that name-drop popular brands or use part of their names (e.g., christiandiorsuperdiscounts.net.)
Aside from suspicious domain names, as mentioned above, other signs may identify a bogus e-commerce store. The online shop may display broken language, unattractive website design, poor customer reviews, shady or no contact information, and a lack of legal disclaimers.
2. Ensure secure surfing.
Cyber experts also recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for a more secure browsing experience. VPN protects you and your browsing activity from businesses, government agencies, hackers and cyber intruders by hiding your IP address and data.
Besides allowing you to access a social media network that is otherwise blocked in your country, or to shop from an online fashion store abroad, a VPN can also filter your data using an encrypted virtual tunnel. Doing so prevents an unauthorized entity from accessing your personal information. Opting for VPN surfing is especially advantageous when you’re traveling and using a public network to shop, or if you’re visiting a new site.
Another useful tip is to look for the padlock symbol in the address bar. This symbol located next to the website address means that you have a secure connection. This also means that no one can read or modify the data being exchanged between you and the website you are visiting.
Also, be aware of how weblinks appear on your browser. It should start with the https:// with the “s” standing for “secure.” You should also subscribe to double verification, especially when using credit cards and other digital payment platforms.
3. Create strong passwords.
To prevent hackers from correctly guessing your password, avoid using common dictionary words. Instead, go for unique passwords in your native or another language to provide yourself a more robust protective barrier from cyber snoops.
Create passwords that are not easily predicted, using alphanumeric characters, uppercase and lowercase characters, and symbols. Avoid using personal information such as your birthday, sequential numbers (e.g., 1234), or sequential keyboard paths (e.g., qwerty).
4. Veer away from public Wi-Fi.
Shopping Online in the UAE using public Wi-Fi can give cyber attackers access to your data and information. While it is tempting to use free Wi-Fi, it also leaves hackers free to prank you or, worse, hijack your browsing activity, including banking and shopping.
This is where encrypted VPNs are beneficial as you can surf the web and shop more securely.
5. Be wary of cybercrimes.
A 2016 study from the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky showed that cybercrimes had victimized 42% of UAE residents, and only 21% acknowledged that these are indeed threats.
As more people are shifting to e-commerce nowadays, the Dubai Police director for criminal investigation, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jalaf, warns the online shopping public to be more careful. Everyone should be more vigilant in taking safety precautions since cyber fraudsters seek ways to take advantage of them.
Cybercriminals can steal your private information and use it to commit all kinds of fraud and cybercrimes. Make sure that when shopping online, you are on always your toes and wary about suspicious sales offers, emails, and messages.
Fun and Fearless Shopping
Make shopping Online in the UAE more fun by keeping yourself safe and secure from cyber anomalies. Whether you’re shopping for fashionable items such as clothes, shoes, and bags, or looking for home décor and other essentials, you must protect your Online in the UAE connection while getting the best deals and the most rewarding shopping experience.