The holiday season is here, and for many people that means it is time for Christmas shopping. Many people take advantage of the sales on “Black Friday” to kick off their holiday shopping. This year was no different with large crowds trying to find the best sales. People could even start earlier this year, as many of the stores opened on Thanksgiving Day to get a head start on the Black Friday competition. This year people not only took advantage of the in-store savings, but they also shopped heavily online on “Cyber Monday”. According to IBM, Cyber Monday sales increased 20.6% from 2012, which made it the biggest online shopping day in history. Many stores are offering extended sales to keep the online spending going including products, services, and deals that may not have been available to us otherwise.
However, online shopping can be risky so it is important to have good online shopping habits to protect yourself from online retail scams. Here is a list of tips for safe online shopping:
- Shop at reliable online shopping sites you are familiar with or verify these are reliable sites through customer reviews or by checking the Better Business Bureau.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card: Credit cards offer theft protection that debit cards do not offer.
- Only enter your credit card information on secure websites: Secure web sites start with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. They will also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen.
- It is better to shop from your home computer than on a shared computer. If you are on a shared computer be sure to delete the history, page cache, and cookies to make sure none of your information is saved.
- Save records of your online transactions.
- Be sure your computer has a good anti-malware software to secure your PC from viruses and other attacks to keep unauthorized users from obtaining your personal information.
- Double check payment site URLs: Phishers often use similar URLs to trick users into giving out personal information.
- After you have made a purchase, check your billing statements to verify transactions are correct, and if there are any discrepancies, report it immediately.
Use these tips when shopping online to keep your information secure this holiday season!