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Shopping Safety Tips & Precautions

As Cyber Monday draws closer and closer, savvy shoppers and bargain hunters are preparing their shopping lists for the hottest online sales of the year. Held the first Monday following Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday offers crazy cheap prices, many of which are considered well below retail price. This online sales event has become so popular that many are now using the term Cyber Week, offering seven days of amazing deals so everyone gets a chance to save, regardless of work and school obligations!

Following Black Friday in record-breaking sales, Cyber Monday puts online retailers in the black too! It is estimated that online purchases for Cyber Monday will surpass more than 2.5 billion dollars this year across the U.S. With this kind of spending, you should be aware of any security risks involved when shopping online. Here are some quick tips to keep you protected with securing those hot Cyber Monday Deals!

Keep your computer secure.

For the best protection while making Cyber Monday purchases, you should check for updates to your operating system and applications. You should also check to make sure that your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is operational and does not require any updates. Always make sure that your firewall is up and running before conducting any business online.

Purchase from trusted merchants and online retailers on Cyber Monday.

For the best protection, only purchase from online merchants that you know and trust. If an unfamiliar retailer offer Cyber Monday deals you can’t stand to miss, check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission. You should also confirm the online retailer’s physical address and phone number, just in case there are questions or problems with your Cyber Monday purchases.

Pay close attention while making online purchases.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a computer technology most trusted online retailers use which encrypts your credit card information as it is sent across the internet. You can safely make online purchases on your favorite retailer sites by looking for important indicators that confirm the site is secure. Check your browser’s status bar to be sure that “https://” appears in the website’s address bar rather than “http://” before making online purchases. The “s” in “https:// stands for the word ‘secure’ and indicates your information will travel across the web while safely encrypted.

Create exceptionally strong passwords that others cannot easily guess.

For online merchants that require a password with the purchasing account, create an exceptionally strong password using at least eight characters. The best passwords will contain numbers, special characters, lower case letters, and at least one upper case letter. Never use the same passwords for all of your online accounts, and never share your log-in information or passwords.

Avoid falling victim to scams and fraud.

You should never submit your personal or financial information across e-mails, text messages, or by telephone. You should not give monetary donations initiated by unsolicited communications, as this could be a scam, masquerading as a charitable organization. Instead, do your homework and think before clicking on e-mails asking for donations. By contacting organizations directly to verify validity, your gift or donation will end up in deserving hands.

Never use public computers or unsecured wireless connections while making online purchases.

Take advantage of Cyber Monday deals while shopping online, using your own computer and/or a secure wireless connection. Make sure that the sharing feature is disabled so other computers in the vicinity cannot access your personal and financial information or utilize malicious software to steal your credit card information while ordering to prevent frauds and scam artists from monitoring your network.

Using your settings, turn off all pop-up messages.

Your browser settings should set to block all pop-up messages. Never share your personal or financial information across a pop-up message while browsing and do not reply or follow the link given. If the retailer is legitimate, they will not request your financial information using a pop-up message.

Pay for Cyber Monday purchases with your credit card or PayPal.

Always complete the checkout process using your credit card rather than your debit card for the most secure transactions. This is due to the fact that your credit card purchases are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, reducing personal liability if your personal and financial information is used unlawfully.

Print and save your purchase receipts for proof of purchase.

It may seem like a hassle, but online shoppers should always print receipts and save their transaction records. In your records, you should include all product descriptions prices, printed online receipts, and any e-mails sent or received pertaining to the transaction. You should review your credit card statements carefully upon arrival to confirm that all of the charges listed are legitimate. During peak shopping periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Cyber Week, check your credit card transactions and balances on a weekly basis, just to be safe. If there are discrepancies, you should contact your credit card company immediately.

Know your trusted retailers’ privacy policies.

Every online merchant you visit should have a privacy policy posted to ensure your information is safe. You should always be aware of which information is being collected and shared by the merchants you patronize, and how the details are being used or shared.