As Black Friday approaches and we officially kickoff the holiday season, many will crash the gates of retailers in the wee hours of the morning to ensure a chance at some of the best retail pricing of the year. But after that dust has settled and the throngs of shoppers return home to reheat some Thanksgiving leftovers, another enormous shopping day is only hours away: Cyber Monday.
For those who prefer to avoid crowds or simply enjoy shopping using nothing but a couch and laptop, Cyber Monday holds all the allure of Black Friday sans the chaos. As online retailers have become savvy to the annual boost in traffic each Monday that follows the Thanksgiving holiday, so have online scammers. To ensure that your holiday treats don’t become sour grapes we’ve rounded up some of the top safety tips from various organizations. So if you’re a cyber shopper, make sure you’re cyber safe.
According to The Center for Internet Security (CIS), you should definitely avoid pop-up ads. While these types of ads are generally a simple annoyance, this time of year hackers frequently use this method to catch those shoppers in a frenzy for a great deal. If a pop-up does intrigue you, be sure to at least take a moment to scrutinize the offer and destination URL carefully.
Update Your Software
CIS also highly recommends ensuring that your software is up-to-date. Whether or not you use a specific anti-virus platform, security updates often include items that close security loopholes and backdoors that were accidently left open when the software hit the market. Pausing to do any updates prior to a big online shopping spree is definitely a smart move.
Update or Create Strong Passwords
Simple passwords are one of the biggest security risks you can have as an online shopper. Some of the most secure passwords are at least ten characters long and contain both upper and lowercase letters, numbers and at least one special symbol like an @ or &. Making sure to use a strong password is especially important for and site that gives access to personal or financial information.
Shop from Secure Sites
Take note of whether or not the sites you’re shopping on bare eTRUST, SSL or Better Business Bureau emblems. These types of certifications most often signify that the website has protections in place to secure their shopper’s personal information. While these insignias can be faked, they’re a great place to start when it comes to judging a new websites legitimacy.
Check Privacy Settings and Bank Statements Frequently
If you’re shopping from a mobile device, be sure to review your device’s privacy settings. Broadcasting to the world that your entire family is out of the house and buying big ticket items is probably not the best idea. You should also review your bank and credit card statements on a regular basis. Unfortunately, signs of someone stealing your credit or debit card information may not show immediately, so be sure to review your statements regularly if you suspect something is amiss.
Use an Escrow Service for Big Ticket Purchases
If you’re looking to make a purchase or two that is well outside of the norm when it comes to holiday gifts, consider using an online escrow service to ensure your payment doesn’t disappear into thin air. These types of online escrow services will hold your payment securely until your purchase arrives, removing the need to send a check and simply hope that your new classic car or ATV will arrive as promised.
Whether you choose to brave the crowds on Black Friday or simply cruise the web on Cyber Monday, the tips above will help to ensure that your holiday purchases arrive safe and sound while your personal information stays locked away – snug as a bug in a rug. Happy Holidays!