It’s Cyber Monday! Do You Know How to Shop Safely Online?

It's cyber Monday computer screen

No, we are not being invaded by robots. For those of you not in the know, Cyber Monday is the busiest online shopping day of the year. Americans wanting to avoid the Black Friday crowds or just looking for great bargains, go online the first Monday following Thanksgiving, looking for great bargains paired with the convenience of online shopping.

Buying over the internet means using credit cards to make your purchases, so this is a good time to review the basics of online shopping safety. Here are 7 tips to a better shopping experience.

  • Know who you are shopping with. Stick to online retailers that you know well. If you find yourself at a site that is unknown to you, look to see that they have a physical location and read their online reviews.
  • Shop at secure websites. If you see the locked padlock symbol in the bar at the top of your browser or the website address begins with shttp: or https:, you know that the website is encrypted. Encrypted sites offer the best online safety when entering sensitive data like credit card numbers and passwords.
  • Look for a privacy policy. Legitimate online retailers will post a link to their privacy policy. You want to understand how they are going to use your private information and the privacy policy is the best place to look.
  • Never use a debit card to shop online. Use your credit card. If fraud occurs with your debit card, the money is coming straight out of your checking account and it may take some time to get it back. Credit cards also offer better consumer protection in the event that fraud does occur. Always check your account statements regularly to ensure nothing looks out of the ordinary.
  • Know the website’s return policy. Can you send the product back without a hassle? Can you return it to a brick and mortar store? Who pays for the shipping on returns? How long do you have to return the product? As a savvy consumer, these are the kinds of things that you will want to know.
  • Use a secured network. I know the ability to shop with your tablet while drinking coffee in your favorite bakery is convenient. However, you are probably using their unsecured public wireless network and that means any information you provide online could be intercepted by hackers. Don’t trade convenience and those great cupcakes for online security.
  • Hold onto that receipt. After your purchase is complete, hold onto the receipt. That is your official record of the transaction and you will want to keep it safe until you are satisfied with the product or service you just bought.

Taking a few basic steps to ensure your shopping experience is safe and secure can prevent fraud and identity theft from ruining your holidays.

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