How to Shop Safely on Cyber Monday
This post was updated on November 4, 2022.
Attention, holiday shoppers! Get your credit cards ready for "Cyber Monday."
Online retailers, not wanting to miss out with eager Black Friday shoppers, dubbed the Monday after Thanksgiving "Cyber Monday," a day dedicated to online deals and sales.
Online shoppers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday in 2021. That was down from a record-high of $10.8 billion spent in 2020.
It may be safer to shop from home by avoiding crowded malls, especially during cold and flu season. However, there are risks to online shopping: fraud and identity theft.
But you can be one step ahead of cybercriminals if you know how to shop online safely.
10 Tips for Safe Online Shopping:
1. Know the Seller
You want to make sure the seller is legitimate. There are several ways to check if a retailer is authentic and has a good reputation.
- Look up the seller on the Better Business Bureau website.
- Read consumer reviews on independent websites such as Amazon.com or Yelp.com that mention experiences with the seller (for example, the delivery of goods, condition of the goods, and return and exchange policies).
- Check the seller's social media posts. Are consumers happy with their experience? Do you see any red flags that the seller is not reputable?
- Run a Google search with the web address and the word "scam." It works almost every time.
2. Verify the Website.
Google sorts through billions of websites daily, looking for compromised websites. You can check the seller's website status with Google's Transparency Report.
3. Use Strong Passwords
When setting up an online account with a retailer, choose a password that is difficult to guess. Avoid using the same password on several websites because if a thief gets your password, they can use it in several places. Although it is a hassle to use a different password for each e-commerce account, there are password managers to keep your passwords secure and available to you.
4. Confirm Your Online Purchase is Secure
Look for shopping sites with "HTTPS" and feature a "padlock" symbol in the address bar of your internet browser. This icon indicates a secure purchase. HTTPS means the website uses an encrypted secure sockets layer (SSL) to protect your privacy.
5. Look for a Trust Seal
When checking out your shopping cart, you may notice a trust seal. A company such as TrustedSite or Norton Secured issues a seal to websites that verify your confidential information is safe.
6. Use Your Credit Card
If you can, avoid using a gift card or prepaid credit card. Those cards don't have the same fraud protections provided by your credit card company. Additionally, don't use a debit card, or cyber criminals may gain access to your bank account. Another option is to use PayPal or ApplePay for secure transactions. Online vendors don't see your credit card information with these secure payment services.
7. Check the Return Policy
Can you get a refund if your item doesn't arrive in time for the holidays? Are there restocking fees if you return an item? Make sure you are comfortable with the retailer's terms and conditions. Yes, you may have to read the fine print.
8. Avoid Online Shopping in Public Places
It is not secure if you use a public Wi-Fi network on your mobile device, for example, in a coffee shop or restaurant. On a non-secure Wi-Fi network, it is easy for thieves to see your credit card information or the personal information you are sending and steal it. Use a VPN (virtual private network) or shop from home using your secure internet connection.
9. Protect Your Computer From Malware
Hackers use malicious software or "malware" to steal data or destroy computers with viruses. Make sure your computer is up to date with spam filters, antivirus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall.
10. Check Your Credit Card Statements
Review your statements for any unauthorized charges or double billing. Report any suspicious or fraudulent activity immediately.
Avoid Phishing Expeditions
Another scam to avoid is an email or text disguised as a legitimate company aiming to get your personal or financial information. This scam is called "phishing." You may receive an email notification telling you there is a problem with your order. Then they ask you to verify your financial information, such as a credit card number, phone number, password, or date of birth. When you click on the link, the website looks like the company's legitimate online store, but the scammer owns it. If it looks suspicious, don't respond to the email, but you can contact the vendor independently to see if it is a scam.
What if You Are Scammed?
- Contact your credit card company: Credit card companies have fraud alert departments to freeze your account, dispute charges, and credit you for unauthorized use. They will issue you a new credit card.
- Contact the FBI: If you fall victim to an internet scam, you can report it to the FBI. They have an Internet Crime Complaint Center to file a cybercrime complaint.
- Find an attorney who represents identity theft victims: Identity theft is a nightmare for some people, taking months, even years, to sort out. Enlist the help of an attorney who focuses on identity theft.
You are now ready to enjoy online holiday shopping online without giving any gifts to cybercriminals.
- Find An Identity Theft Lawyer Near Me (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Email Phishing Scams (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Online Scams (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.