Today, more than ever, everything happens online. Since the Covid-19 global pandemic, there has been a drastic change in the way we use digital technologies – we now work online from anywhere on multiple devices, watch our movies online (when was the last time you went to see a movie in a cinema?), connect with our pals online and… purchase goods and services online! Yes, digital payments, although they have been around for quite some time now, skyrocketed in 2020 during the lockdowns. This is now our “new normal”. As rightly pointed out by the CEO of PayPal on CNBC in 2020, “digital payments are shifting from being a nice-to-have capability to a must-have essential service”. We totally agree!
In Mauritius, digital payments have become more and more popular amongst all age groups. Yes, even grandpa has his favourite payment app and with good reason! It offers a secure and convenient way to pay plus you can manage your bank account/s directly from a smart device – you only require an internet connection. Nonetheless, like any activity happening over the internet, digital payments are also the target of cyberattacks. The good news is that you can protect yourself by adopting safe online behaviours. Here are some useful tips:
1. Make a habit of checking your financial statements
Yes, as trivial as it may seem, this practice can really pay off in terms of security. When doing this routinely, you’ll be able to notice any anomaly in your expenses. If you identify a suspicious transaction, you should immediately inform your bank.
2. Enable dual authentication processes
This will help you secure your accounts from unauthorised access. To put it in simple words, a two-step process confirms that you are really who you say you are. User authentication via SMS is a simple and an effective way to protect your account from unauthorised access. In case of theft of the original password, only you will receive the one-time password (OTP) on your smartphone allowing you to login for online banking or authorise digital payments.
3. Opt for biometric authentication
For advanced security, you can apply a biometric authentication method on your devices. It uses your unique biological characteristics such as fingerprints, facial recognition or retina scans to corroborate your identity. This feature is increasingly available on a large number of smart devices. Use it as your preferred authentication method as it significantly reduces the chances of someone usurping your identity. You wouldn’t want to give them a free pass by relaxing your security measures!
4. Use only trusted apps
Digital payment solutions are mushrooming nowadays as more and more people start adopting them. You should always choose apps from trusted companies only. Not all mobile payment solutions are born equal or provide equal protection. Online reviews from app users can also be helpful in case of doubt.
5. Don’t be an open book
When it comes to unnecessary information being asked, you should never give in. Do not share your personal information with an unknown entity; it makes you an easy target for phishing attempts. Always remember that your bank or digital payments provider will never ask you to share your login credentials and password under any circumstances. If you receive such a request, it should raise a red flag and you need to contact them immediately.
6. Do not save your card details
When making online purchases, you should make sure that your debit or credit card details are not saved on your device. You are probably thinking that it is a great way to save time for your next purchase, as you wouldn’t need to re-enter your details again. And we feel you! But, convenience should not be chosen over security. It is best to delete your card details after completing an online purchase to avoid any risk of data theft from your device.
7. Turn on notifications
As a best practice, you should always turn on transaction notifications when using a payment app so that you are alerted whenever a money transfer is initiated. If you have multiple cards or accounts associated to an app, enable the notifications for all of them for future cross-referencing of your transactions.
8. Beware of phishing attacks
By now, you should be familiar with this term as even in Mauritius, we are not safe from them. If you are making an online purchase, make sure that the site is a trusted one and you are not giving away your account or card information. Avoid unsolicited emails or text messages that ask you to make a money transfer to win something. If it’s too good to be true, chances are it isn’t!
A few small steps can go a long way to protect you from cyberattacks. However, rest assured that banks and leading digital payment providers are constantly upping their game when it comes to security protocols to protect your accounts and card transactions online. Digital payments remain the safest and most efficient way to pay as they eliminate the risks associated with physical money handling such as loss, theft and health and safety concerns.