Tips to Secure Your Cyber Monday Shopping Spree

The large number of people expected to shop online today presents thieves with a golden opportunity to bilk unsuspecting consumers. If you’re planning on letting your fingers do the shopping, here are tips to help you stay safe.

Some shoppers don’t like to deal with all the hustle and bustle that Black Friday can bring, so they prefer to find their steals and deals on Cyber Monday.  Shoppers who do a lot of online shopping are also at a greater risk for scams. Before you log on and start taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals, check out the following safety tips provided by

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1. Update your antivirus and anti-spyware software and run a security check. Making sure your computer is clean beforehand will make it easier to keep it that way. Some antivirus software will alert you the moment it thinks you have downloaded a suspicious and potentially harmful file, even in the background.

2. Scrutinize your inbox. Did you actually subscribe to messages from that shop? If not, be wary – it may not be legitimate. Don’t click on any links in emails you don’t recall subscribing for. Instead, go to the retailer’s website directly to verify any deals, discounts or codes mentioned in the email.

If you do subscribe to certain stores’ emails, keep a watch for any radical differences between the emails you receive over the Cyber Monday period and what you’re used to seeing. A mostly-text email or a message riddled with typos is a big red flag.

3. Check your balances. Know what you have before you ever hit the ‘checkout’ button. Keep an ongoing record of what you’ve spent and where so that you can compare your numbers with your bank and credit card accounts.

4. Are you shopping securely? Use secure sites. You should be able to tell when you’re on a secure site when you see a padlock icon or similar symbol in the address bar of a checkout page. The address itself should begin with an “https://” prefix. In addition, make sure that you are on a private network – don’t shop while on a public wi-fi system.

5. Know who you’re buying from. Make sure you’re shopping from a trusted retailer. If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is – this was the case with an in-store coupon that was dummied up to look like it came from Target. Similar Facebook posts can look like they came from a trusted retailer but really take you to a malicious site. When in doubt, don’t click – head to an official site or social media page to verify a deal.

Also take note of who is handling your purchase. While retailers have return and refund policies for products they sell directly, third-party sellers who offer items on the same sites may have different policies.

6. Credit is preferable. Using credit cards exclusively for online shopping is recommended because credit cards often offer heightened security features that debit cards do not. You should also avoid paying with any “electronic check” option that asks you to enter account and routing numbers.

7. Your Social Security number is not for shopping. A legitimate retailer will never ask for this during the checkout process.

8. Keep checking your balances. This is a good tip regardless if you shop online or in a physical store. Earlier we told you to keep a record of what you spent and where. Check back in with your bank and credit card accounts regularly after Cyber Monday or a major personal shopping day. A good rule of thumb is once a day for at least 7-10 days. If, somehow, your card number was lifted and used without your knowledge, this is one of the quickest ways to catch it. Many card issuers now offer free fraud alerts by email, phone or text – they will notify you if they see suspicious activity on your account.

9. Report a problem. If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a scam or theft while shopping online; report it as soon as possible. You can file an online complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. If you feel your banking information was compromised, call the customer service center for your card issuer – their number is usually printed on the back of your card.

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