10 Quick Online Shopping Tips that’ll Keep You Safe in Kenya

With the proliferation of online shopping, lots of people are trying to scam you out of your money or steal your card details. Thankfully, if you follow a few simple rules you can have a safe and secure online shopping experience.

10 Quick Online Shopping Tips that’ll Keep You Safe in Kenya

The uptake of e-commerce in Kenya has been massive and admirable with most companies recording double-digit growth and hyper-sales even in their first year of operation – but online shopping for some people is still something they mull over.

Most retailers and brands have moved to establish virtual shops on some E-commerce company websites to bridge the gap between offline and online and maximize sales.

But as the popularity of online shopping increases, so do the risks. Lots of people and hackers are trying to scam you out of your money or steal your card details. Thankfully, if you follow a few simple rules you can have a safe and secure online shopping experience.

Here are 10 tips to help you.

  • Use the best anti-malware program on your computer

Make sure you are using the best anti-malware program and its virus signatures are constantly updated. Also, ensure your firewall is on when using a public wireless network and your own wireless network is encrypted with a password to prevent anyone outside from collecting information.

  • Shop from online merchants with a good reputation

Ensure you know the online store’s physical address and you can walk into their office if there is a problem to be sorted.

If you have friends who have purchased from the site before, you can be reassured by their trust too.

If the store is new, or not reputable conduct your own research by looking at the site’s reviews, customer complaints on social media pages also, ask around. If no one knows about it, don’t use it.

  • Avoid clicking on links from spam emails to make purchases

It’s a bad idea to click on an email sent to you from someone you don’t know and shop on its landing page. Ensure you know the retailer’s website and key in the search words for yourself.

  • Create a unique/strong password for online account

You will be required to create an account with the site you intend to purchase from. Make sure the password is strong and unique, passwords like 1234 or those that start with a short form of your name like Ken1234 should be avoided.

  • Avoid ‘Extremely good offers’

If a store offers too good deals like extremely low prices, be suspicious. During mega sales/flash sales, most eCommerce sites will offer ‘incredible’ discounts but just for a limited quantity of products and time.

Also, look for discount coupon codes that can significantly lower your purchasing price.

  • Don’t give too much information

After opening an account with an e-commerce company, expect to give the same information in future purchases e.g. telephone number, email address, shipping address, method of payment.

If asked for suspicious information like bank account details, driver’s license numbers, spouse or family information. Run!!!!

  • Check the company’s shipping, warranty, and return policy

Ensure the shipping fee charged is reasonable for the product you buy and the distance. The return and exchange policy should be flexible with a time limit of at least 7 days. Be sure that the warranty policy is sensible and applicable.

  • Use a reputable method of payment to pay for products

Some E-commerce sites will offer cash-on-delivery payment methods within certain geographical locations, if you are beyond those regions, use payment methods that provide you proof of payment like mobile money transfer, PayPal, credit cards, etc.

Credit card vs Debit card– a credit card will have a spending limit while your debit card –linked to your bank account does not. If your credit card financial information is stolen, your money at the bank remains untouched- most debit cards do not offer this advantage.

  • Print or save a copy of your orders

It’s advisable to keep documentation of your online purchases. You will receive a confirmation email with the order number. Print, take a screenshot, and save till you receive the product. Follow up if the item is not shipped within 10 days without prior communication.

  • Download shopping apps created by trusted developers

Many of the big online retailers in Kenya have created apps that allow you to shop conveniently and compare prices, read reviews on your smartphone or tablet. Ensure you download the legitimate app and have a mobile anti-malware for viruses and spyware.

Tips for card security

Using your Visa card to pay for things is a safer and convenient way to shop, but there are a few things you can do to safeguard your details. Fraudsters will stop at nothing to get your personal information and card data. Their scams can be clever, but not clever enough if you know how they work and how to avoid them. Here are some tips on how you can keep your personal and card information safe and out of the hands of fraudsters.

Using Your Card Securely

  • Always know where your card is at all times
  • Never write down your Personal Identification Number (PIN)-memorize it
  • Never disclose your PIN to anyone
  • Do not choose numbers and letters that can be easily identified when selecting a PIN (e.g. avoid using initials, phone numbers, or birth dates)
  • Ensure you sign your card on the signature panel as soon you receive it
  • Make a record of card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards and keep this list in a safe place
  • Store important documents securely and shred all personal and financial information (e.g., bank statements, credit/ATM receipts, credit card offers, credit card bills, etc.) before you throw them away

Retail and ATM

Accepted across the world, more convenient and safer than cash, payment cards have transformed how we shop and bank. Our investment in Chip and PIN technology has had a significant impact on securing face to face transactions and in reducing counterfeit fraud. But fraudsters may try to steal your card information and use it for unauthorized charges. Make sure you make these transactions in ways that reduce your risk of fraud.

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Review receipts before you sign
  • When entering your PIN at the ATM, always make sure to cover the keypad using your free hand
  • Guard your PIN from fraudster “shoulder surfing”
  • Sign up for email/SMS "transaction alerts" from your bank
  • Keep copies of ATM and sales receipts for your records  and regularly monitor your accounts for any unusual card activity
  • When in a hotel or a restaurant for example, never lose eye contact with your card. New generations of wireless POS can be used right at your table in front of you


From spyware to dodgy merchants, the threat of online fraud is real, but you are the best line of defense. The key to combating online fraud is knowing what threats exist and taking easy steps to beat them.

  • Activate Verified by Visa for added security
  • Keep your software and virus protection up to date on your computer and devices
  • Create strong passwords
  • Ignore emails from senders you don’t know
  • Download files only from sites you know
  • Sign up for email/SMS "transaction alerts" from your bank to keep track of your purchases


Mobile technology is everywhere. It is changing how we communicate, how we do business, and how we access our personal and professional lives. But we need to remind ourselves to stay safe when using our mobiles.

  • Protect the devices you use both physically and with passwords/PIN codes
  • Sensitive account information should never be stored on your mobile device
  • Be aware of your surroundings—don't loudly read your details in a public environment


Email phishing scams try to trick you into revealing credit card numbers, PIN, bank account passwords or other private information. Most phishing starts as an email that links to a fake Internet site that looks like the real thing with familiar logos and graphics, but it is not. When you enter personal information on such sites, it gets sent to fraudsters.

  • Consider all email requests for personal information to be suspicious
  • Visa never calls or writes cardholders for personal account information
  • Do not respond to such emails or enter information on questionable websites
  • Check the legitimacy of the enquiry by contacting the number on the back of your card
  • Report suspicious emails claiming to be from Visa to phishing@visa.com

Using your card whilst abroad

  • Avoid leaving cards unattended, in a hotel room, public areas, or in a locked or unlocked vehicle
  • Take advantage of the safe or security box provided by the hotel for your valuables
  • Save all of your receipts for proof of purchase. And when you get home, carefully check them against your monthly statements

And, in case your card is lost or stolen

Immediately contact your bank if your card gets lost, stolen, retained by an ATM, or you suspect that someone might have obtained your PIN.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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