Ready, set, shop! The 2013 holiday shopping season is finally here and the two biggest shopping days of the year — Black Friday and Cyber Monday — are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to get the best deals at Walmart, Target or Best Buy the day after Thanksgiving or take advantage of Cyber Monday discounts on Amazon, now is the time to plan your Christmas shopping strategies.
But if you’re planning to hit the Cyber Monday sales without sticking to the sites you know and trust, remember that shopping online can expose you to scams like identity theft and credit card fraud. Fortunately, we’re here with 5 tips to keep you out of harm’s way this holiday season. Check out Scambook’s top Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping safety tips:
Tip #1. Shop With a Prepaid Card
Prepaid cards offer two primary benefits. The first benefit is that prepaid credit cards usually offer the same anti-fraud protection that come with regular credit cards. This means that you’re protected from unauthorized activity on your account and your liability to fraudulent charges is limited.
The second benefit is has less to do with security and more to do with forced personal responsibility: Prepaid cards keep you on budget. As we all know, it’s far too easy to overspend during the holidays so prepaid cards will keep you both on budget and protect you from fraud — two birds with one stone.
Tip #2. Shop With a Credit Card
If you don’t like a prepaid card’s limited budget or reloading requirements, you may opt to use a credit card this Cyber Monday. Credit cards have anti-fraud systems in place that protect you from unauthorized charges to your account.
Credit card providers actively search for suspicious and fraudulent activity on consumer accounts — a nice benefit to have when you’re shopping online. If your credit card information lands in the wrong hands, your liability is limited under Federal law.
Debit cards don’t offer this same kind of protection, and any money that gets stolen is pulled directly from your checking account.
Tip #3. Stick to Sites You Trust
This tip goes far beyond Cyber Monday. If you’re shopping online, stick with reputable, trustworthy stores like Amazon or Woot, the websites of brick-and-mortar retailers like Target or Best Buy.
You may be tempted by amazing deals on sites you’ve never heard of, but it’s safer to stay away. Many of these websites pop-up during the holiday season to scam shoppers and then vanish as fast as they appear. Some of our most common complaints on Scambook are filed against websites like this.
Want to know how to determine if an online store is a scam? Search for real customer reviews on Google and check to see if there are any complaints here on Scambook.
Tip #3. Be Wary of Too-Good-to-Be-True Deals
Like anything in life, if a deal appears to be too good to be true, it likely is. When you’re shopping this Cyber Monday and you see iPads or other electronics for fractions of their retail price, it’s likely a scam. This is also true for designer clothes, toys, or anything else.
This advice also goes for mysterious links and deals that show up in your email inbox. More often than not, these are scams intended to steal your money or your information through a process called information phishing. They may also install computer viruses or other malware on your computer.
Tip #4. Use a Different Password
While it’s important to diversify your passwords from one account to the next, it’s especially true when shopping this Cyber Monday. If you’re asked to create an account to purchase something from an online retailer, use a password that’s different from your other passwords.
Why? Online retailers are routinely hacked and their databases are compromised. This means that if you used the same password as your email or bank account, your account security goes out the window. Diversify those passwords, ladies and gentlemen.
What Do You Think?
Are you a Cyber Monday shopper? What are your methods for safe online shopping? Let us know in the comments section!