Teach children to transact safely online

With multiple gadgets like smartphones, tablets and laptops present in every household, children today are constantly connected to the internet and online marketplaces. It’s also common for parents to share their net banking, e-wallet, and credit card details with their kids to enable them to transact online. While it is important to teach children how to shop online, this comes with risks, as the recent case of debit cards being compromised showed. However, risk-minimisation techniques are available that you can teach your children so that they are able to do so safely.  

Operate safe devices: Having a secure device is the starting point of data safety. Whether you are using a desktop, a laptop or a handheld device, upgrade its software and hardware to the latest standards. Older software, especially those no longer supported by its maker, could be at security risk. You could get hacked and your data — be it ordinary documents or sensitive information like your net banking login — could get stolen. Older operating systems such as Microsoft XP should be upgraded. 

Don’t forget to install antivirus and malware detection software since a computer connected to the internet is under constant threat of being infected by malware. Teach your child to avoid making financial transactions while using a public computer, since you could be exposed to key-logging software that records what you type such as your login details. This risk can be minimised by using virtual keyboards that most financial websites provide nowadays. 

Use safe downloads: Children may want to download games, movies and software from the internet. It is okay if these are being downloaded from legitimate sources. But often these downloads happen from illegal websites. Visiting them puts children at risk. Not only will they be exposed to mature content, they may also end up downloading unsafe software. Once installed, such software could be used to spy on you, to control your computer remotely, or to even hold it to ransom. Once hijacked, you may need expert help to free your system. If your system is held captive by ransomware, do not fall into the trap of making a ransom payment from your credit card through unsecure channels, since this would put your financial data at further risk.

Password security: Parents may provide their children with their own bank account or share their own account details with them. Teach them to remember their passwords and pins and avoid writing them down anywhere. Without safe storage, your login details can fall in the wrong hands and lead to hacking or misuse of your account. Children should be educated about the consequences of sharing the password and the extent of losses that can occur due to such lapses.  

If your children have their own personal accounts, teach them how to set a strong password. Ideally, a password should contain a combination of upper and lower case alphabets, numbers, special characters, and its length should not be less than eight characters. 

Activate digital alerts: Digital alerts should be enabled for all accounts that your children operate. Such alerts should include a one-time password (OTP), debit alert and service request alert. Such alerts could be received on the registered mobile number and email address. Children should be educated about reporting any alerts, that they didn’t trigger, to their parents immediately. Even if their password has been compromised, a digital alert could prevent an unauthorised transaction, since an OTP would be required to complete the transaction. 

Safe-keeping of sensitive information: Thieves and hackers use various ways to deceive bank account and card holders to extract vital details of their accounts, such as debit card number, CVV number, password, registered email, registered mobile number, etc.

Teach your children that banks never ask for private details through emails, phone calls, SMS messages or any other digital medium. Teach them that there are fake communications and phishing websites that look realistic but are designed to steal your data. Show them examples of this so that they understand the risks. This would help them discern a real digital transaction experience from a fake one. They should also be taught how they could lose money quickly and suffer losses if their account gets hacked.  Scammers often send fraudulent emails and SMS messages luring the receiver with free gifts. Children must be educated about these messages and how responding to them can land them in trouble. 

Transact through reliable websites: Your children would be aware of the most visible e-commerce brands. But there are lesser known websites that may not be safe to transact on. Parents should restrict the number of websites or apps through which children transact online. This will reduce the chances of them landing on a phishing site.

To begin with, explain to them the importance of paying through SSL-compliant payment gateways. For example, an unsecure payment gateway would not have an “https” URL. 

Fix a limit for online transaction: You should teach children to fix an upper limit for transactions. Sometimes, they may not adequately verify the price of an item and end up purchasing something expensive. Limiting the transaction size can reduce the extent of loss. 

If children know their transaction limit, they will also not indulge in a buying binge. Fix spending limits through net banking, card and ATM.   

Children learn quickly, but they also make mistakes. Correct them in a calm and controlled manner. Punishing them, taking away their banking privileges, depriving them of the internet or confiscating their devices may not solve the problem. 


The writer is CEO, BankBazaar.com


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