9 Ways to Stay Safe on Cyber Monday
The holiday shopping season has officially arrived and if you are one of the many people who decided to skip last weekend's crazed crowds and flying elbows of Black Friday shoppers to hold out for today's Cyber Monday deals, don't forget to take some precautions when plugging in your personal information on shopping websites.
"Cyber Monday is well on its way to being the biggest online shopping day in history," says Custora CEO Corey Pierson. With online transactions predicted to reach record highs today, knowing how to keep your personal information (such as credit card numbers and your personal identity) safe from online threats is SO important.
According to IBM 2014 Holiday Benchmark Reports, in 2014, Cyber Monday online sales grew by 8.5 percent since 2013, but the average order value was $124.21, down 3.5 percent year-over-year. Facebook and Pinterest act as the two leading social media platforms driving brand loyalty and sales. Comscore reported over $2 billion dollars in online sales from 2014! Seeing those numbers is an online hackers dream!
Here are a few online safety tips to be aware of when shopping online:
1. Shop on reputable sites: Shopping on sites that you buy from regularly are the safest sites to do business with. You know they are reliable and your information is safe. If you find a deal from a company you haven’t heard of it's best to search the company before entering your personal information and concluding a business transaction.
- Note: You can tell if a website is secure by looking at the URL. Websites that begin with "https" are encrypted, rather than just "http." This means the site allows for secure transactions. When a site is secure, some browsers turn the URL green while others show a little lock icon before displaying the web address.
2. Antivirus & Malware protection: Make sure your antivirus and malware protection is up to date. Check that your anti-virus/anti-spyware software is running and receiving automatic updates. If you haven’t already done so, install a firewall before you begin your online shopping. Click to view the Top 10 antivirus software.
3. Update your browsers: Make sure your browsers are up to date. Browsers such as, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Internet Explorer, have safeguards to protect you from spyware, adware and phishing attempts.
4. Phishing attacks and Spam emails: Be careful of emails received from an address you aren’t familiar with. Most phishing attacks will try to scam shoppers through an email that includes a “can’t-be-beat deal” If you get an email promoting a big sale, it is best to research the sale from a secure search engine, like Google, Yahoo, or Safari, rather than clicking the link inserted into an email from an unknown source.
5. Use a secure computer: Do not shop on a public computer. Computers open to the public usually have unsecured wireless connections - shop at home if you can.
6. Set up a PayPal account: If the company you have bought items from gets hacked, your information will be safe because you used an outside payment method (PayPal) and the hackers wont have access to your personal account.
- Note: PayPal is an American, international e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet.
7. Credit card vs. debit cards: Debit cards are linked directly to your bank account; so withdrawing money is simple and fast. Using a credit card (which borrows money from a provider) makes it more difficult for hackers to get your money. Also, by using a credit card you have time to report a transaction before the money is taken from your account.
8. Selecting a password: most people overlook this step when checking out, but it is very important. Make your password easy to remember but hard to guess. Use different passwords for every shopping site. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords, Password Vault is popular software available for purchase that stores all important passwords.
9. Receipts and Confirmations: Save and print ALL item receipts and confirmations. Printing these order confirmations allows one to have written history of their shopping expenditures. If your order never shows up, you have proof of your transaction.
Online shopping is great! Just make sure you follow these online shopping safety tips before venturing out into the cyber world!