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Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday – Tips for Safer Online Shopping Here on the Suncoast

| Angela Naff |

It’s that time of year when checking off holiday decorating and gifting giving lists in progress. Today is Cyber Monday when many online retailers run specials and up the marketing draw to consumers. That said, it is also a day that hackers and others online will be working to gain access to your credit and personal information. We have compiled a few tips for safely shopping online and skipping the headache of identity theft and unauthorized purchases.

Go Directly To Reputable Sellers

This might seem like an obvious tip, but third-party sellers, secondary websites, and low prices can sometimes lower your defenses when it comes to this tip. Once you’ve decided where to shop, bookmark those retailers’ sites to go there directly rather than clicking on offers in ads, emails, or text messages. That will keep you safe from fraudsters who create realistic-looking fake stores designed to look just like the sites of trusted retailers. These Cyber Monday scammers are hoping you’ll make a typo when typing in the retailer’s name and will land on their lookalike site.

Personal Passwords Matter

Long passwords are more difficult to guess, and remembering so many passwords is a nuisance. A cyber thief will attempt to use one on other websites if one is taken. A mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols should be included in a password that is as long as possible.

Furthermore, it would be best if you didn’t reuse passwords, especially on any website dealing with your money. Use one of the top password managers if you find it challenging to manage them. However, you might not need to register an account if you only make one or two transactions on a retail website. Most websites allow you to purchase without one, and having fewer online accounts means fewer worries. 

Double Check URL(s)

This may seem obvious, but you’ll want to check each retail website’s address in your browser’s address bar, aka URL.  Scammers who want to steal your credit-card number or personal information will “clone” well-known shopping sites and park them at web addresses that are often just one mistyped letter away from the real thing, also known as typosquatting.

URL Cyber Monday

More Is Not Always Better

Even if you’re confident that you’re shopping with a reputable, secure website, never give extra information. If you’re ever asked for details (primarily financial) you’re hesitant to offer; the best thing is to not. You should also watch out for sites asking for Social Security numbers or password security questions. A good way to check whether the information you’re handing over is safe is to ask, “Is this necessary for the purchase transaction?” Plus, it is usually sensible to use PayPal or credit cards for online shopping rather than debit cards as it’s easier to claim your money back.

Check Balances Often

Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly, especially during the holiday season, to view electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Look for any fraudulent charges, even originating from payment sites like PayPal and Venmo. If you see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only when you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway.

Cyber Monday

Hopefully, you are now even better equipped to fight identify theft, hackers, and others out there aiming for your pocketbook. Happy shopping online and getting your list done early with the least amount of headache. Cyber Monday is sure to help put more time back in your schedule, than traditional shopping might have, with no commute and shipping to your door. Now, feel free to attend festivals, family events, and those other holiday traditions we all love so much this time of year.

Feature Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos

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