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a man shopping on a laptop trying to avoid a cyber monday scam.
Posted on November 22, 2016 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

Shopping online isn’t this crazy, risky, frightening event, but with all the cyber crooks out there seeking their next victim, you may just prefer slogging through traffic, jockeying for parking, camping in front of a store at midnight, and standing in long lines at a Black Friday event. That’s not for me.

If you’d like to take advantage of all of the great Cyber Monday deals that are fast approaching, and avoid being taken advantage of by scammers, follow these tips.

How to Avoid Cyber Monday Scams

  • Beware of ads on Facebook or some other site boasting a fantastic deal. Remember, if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.
  • Scammy ads often contain malicious links. Security software such as antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, and a firewall will, in most cases, protect you.
  • Do not use debit cards. They may be convenient, but if you pay a scammer with a debit card, then realize what happened, you may never get your money back, as it is gone at the moment of purchase.
  • Do use credit cards. If you pay a scammer with a credit card, you can dispute the charge when it appears on the card. The credit card company will work with you and usually will reverse the charges. In addition, see if your credit card company issues one-time use credit card number for a specific purchase. This way, if the purchase is to a scammer, the scammer can’t use the one-time number for anything else.

Additional Tips

  • Buy common items from big-name retailers whose site URLs begin with a padlock symbol and https; this means they’re secure.
  • When buying from an unfamiliar merchant, acquaint yourself with its online reputation. Research them and see if anyone has had problems in the past.
  • Get familiar with the merchant’s privacy policy—and this actually goes for well-known retailers, too.
  • A merchant doesn’t need to know any more about you than your credit card information, shipping option, and delivery address. If they want more information, such as your Social Security number or birth date, run for the hills; it’s probably a scam.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi for shopping or other sensitive transactions. But if you do, run a Virtual Private Network software to encrypt all your unprotected WiFi data.

Creating a few new secure habits, and dropping some bad ones, will in most cases help you avoid becoming the victim of a Cyber Monday scam. Shopping online in all actuality is typically a worry free process. But there are things you should do to reduce risk.

One such suggestion is to check out IdentityForce’s Bank and Credit Card Activity Alerts that help you stay on top of finances and spot fraud quickly. These proactive alerts allow you to review all of your transactions — with the ability to sort by account, category, date, or amount — all in one place.