As Black Friday approaches, many consumers are preparing to get the best deals on this season's hottest gifts. Although the adrenaline of crawling over people to get the last copy of a video game may be enticing to some, some shoppers may choose to sleep off their turkey and mashed potatoes instead. For those who are staying in on this unofficial holiday, do not be worried about missing out on deals because you still have Cyber Monday to look forward too. Cyber Monday is very similar to Black Friday, but this particular day occurs online on the following Monday.
As with shopping in a store, consumers should be aware of the dangers to their credit on this day. The holiday shopping season is a prime time for identity thieves and other online criminals to get a hold of your personal and financial information and opening up a new line of credit or draining your bank accounts. But there is no need to be worried during this time of year, by following these tips, you can help protect yourself online:
Secure computer software
It is recommended to use a credit card, as opposed to a debit card, during online shopping because it will be easier to dispute charges if there has been illegal activity on it. Even though a credit card comes with inherent safety precautions, it is still a good idea to take a few other measures.
The first step before online shopping is to make sure that your computer's browser and security software is up to date. Many browsers will offer new security measures during this time of year, so it doesn't hurt to spend a few extra minutes downloading these programs and getting up to date. Also, check to see if you have the option of upgrading anti-virus software. These programs will help repel any malicious pop-up ads you may encounter while doing your shopping. These little adjustments can go a long way in helping someone avoid identity theft during the holidays.
As you are searching for the hottest gifts this holiday season, be careful with what you search for. During this time of year, many search terms can be enclosed with viruses that can infect your computer. Experts say that many of these viruses can be found in the search terms of the most wanted items for the holiday season. A virus can get into your computer which may steal your bank or personal information and run up your credit. So before you click on a term, make sure you are on a entrusted site.
As with being cautious about shopping for hot holiday items, consumers should be careful with the sites they visit. Online shoppers may go to great lengths to find the best deals and this can lead to going to sites that may not have appropriate security measures. Experts say that many cybercriminals will launch phishing sites, which are made to look like commerce sits or retailers. These sites are not real and are just there to elicit personal information from a shopper. The best route would be to go directly to the retail site itself.
If the item you are looking for is sold out on a site, you may have to go to another site to find it. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to check whether you are on a secure site. All you have to do is look at the URL and see if the web address starts https. The "s" in the address will show you that you are on a secure site.
Trusted internet connection
Whenever you enter your card information into a website, it is important to have a safe and secure Internet connection. While you may do your shopping on your own computer, getting a WiFi connection from you neighbors, a local coffee shop or library may not be the best idea. A location with an unprotected Internet connection may lead you to being susceptible to spam, online identity thieves and other malicious risks.
Regularly check bank statements
Even though you have done your best to avoid scams on Cyber Monday, be sure to keep an eye on your bank account the next few days. Experts say that many thieves will start to use your information in the days after the event. It is a good idea to regularly check your bank account to make sure there have been no unsanctioned charges to your card. If you find that this is the case, alert your credit provider and let them know about the charges.