’Tis the season for online shopping, right? With a delicious Thanksgiving dinner behind us, it’s time to turn to the next big day on the calendar – Cyber Monday. There are a lot of deals to be found online on Cyber Monday, and if you’re planning on getting a head-start on your holiday shopping you’re probably gearing up to brew some coffee, put on your glasses, and stare at the computer for a few hours.
The only thing is that online shopping can put your credit card information and identity at risk. Sure, there are lots of great things about online shopping, but you have to be careful to keep your personal information, well, personal. Check out these eleven tips for preventing identity theft on Cyber Monday.
11 tips for Cyber Monday online shopping.
1. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to scratch.
First, you have to make sure that your defenses are strong and up to the task of keeping out unwanted identity thieves or hackers. Identity thieves are really good at getting around weak spots in computer security so they can go about their nefarious business of stealing credit card information and personal information.
Anyways, having an up-to-date security software or suite installed on your computer can protect you from a lot of online threats. Making sure that your computer is secure and protected can help you defend your personal information, such as your address and your credit card number. Before you click “Add to Cart” or “Check Out” make sure that your anti-virus software is ready.
2. Keep tabs on what credit card you’re using where.
Don’t lose track of which card you’re using on which site when you go on your Cyber Monday shopping spree. If you see any weird or suspect activity on one of your cards, you’ll be able to pinpoint where it came from if you know exactly which credit card you used on the different sites that you were using to shop.
3. Pay attention to the URL.
The URL of a website can tell you a lot. Make sure that the URL of the site you’re going to use to buy stuff begins with https://. One letter, the “s”, is extremely important. It means that the website is secure and that your information should be protected. There should also be a little padlock icon next to the URL. If the site does not have the https:// and the padlock, don’t enter your personal information or make purchases there.
4. Know your credit card company.
Do a little bit of recon about your credit card company. Will your credit card company help you if you notice false charges on your card because someone stole your identity? How do they handle those situations? What will they do to protect you and help you get your money back? What’s their customer service like?
5. Use credit cards instead of debit cards.
If you use a debit card, your money could be gone in the blink of an eye if someone steals your card number. It’s a lot harder to get money back if you’re using a debit card. But if you use a credit card, you have a better chance of being able to dispute a false charge, and your credit card company will hopefully work with you to get your money back.
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6. Shop from reputable brands and retailers.
Be mindful of where you’re shopping. Buy from reputable retailers and stores. You can even check out the retailer’s reputation with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and find out if there have been any problems with the merchant you’re considering buying from.
7. Don’t trust links in suspect-looking ads.
Links can be trouble. Avoid clicking on links that are in weird or eyebrow-raise-worthy ads. Those links might be problematic.
8. Think twice about what kind of information the website is asking for.
The retailer should really only need your shipping address, your payment information, and the type of shipping you want to be able to fill your order.
9. Don’t use a public Wi-Fi network to shop.
Your personal information is more vulnerable if you’re shopping on a public Wi-Fi network. Make sure that the Wi-Fi you’re using is secure and password-protected. Don’t make it easier for identity thieves to steal your information.
10. Trust your gut.
If you have a weird feeling about a particular site or if something doesn’t feel right… trust your instincts. Steer clear and find a different place to do your online shopping. It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to Cyber Monday shopping.
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