I have been waiting for a certain day all year long. No, it isn’t Thanksgiving where I get to eat as much turkey as I please or Christmas Day when I will undoubtedly receive numerous pairs of my favorite slipper socks.  It’s Cyber-Monday and I am counting down the days.  Last year I managed to get 6 pairs of shoes for under $50.

These weren’t flip flops either. There were heels, boots, wedges… You name it; I was having it shipped to my house. Of course the shipping was free, as
well.  I spent a better part of 6 hours shopping online that day and not for one second did I stop to think about how safe I was being with my personal information. I came away from my little frenzy safe, thank goodness, but I may not have been so lucky.

Cyber Monday is a day when consumers are looking for those “Too Good to Be True” deals because it is Cyber Monday and those deals exist on this one magical day. If you think cybercriminals don’t take advantage of this day and the hurried  mindset of online shoppers, you’re wrong.  Cybercriminals know that on any other day you wouldn’t click on link for an ad claiming to offer “Buy 1 iPad, get 2 free”, but on Cyber Monday you just might. Of course, the ITRC wants you to get those deals, but we also want you to stay safe and protect your identity while you are doing it.  So, here are 3 tips to help you avoid becoming an identity theft victim while you shop till your mouse drops.

  1. Use Secure Sites: Secure websites use security technology to transfer information from your computer to the online merchant’s computer. This technology scrambles (encrypts) the information you send, such as your credit card number, in order to prevent computer hackers from obtaining it “en route.” This reduces the number of people who can access the transaction information. The following items shown on your web browser will indicate a connection to a secure web site.
    • https:// The “s” that is displayed after “http” indicates that the website is secure. Often, you do not see the “s” until you actually move to the order page on the website.
    • A closed yellow padlock displayed at the bottom of your screen. If that lock is open, you should assume it is not a secure site.
  2. Research the Vendor or Website: It is best to do business with companies you already know. If the company is unfamiliar, investigate their authenticity and credibility. Conduct an Internet search (i.e. Google, Yahoo) for the company name.  Third party review sites also offer good information regarding what other consumers have experienced.  Sites such as the Better Business Bureau and Yelp are useful tools.  The results should provide both positive and negative comments about the company. If there are no results, be extremely wary. Remember, anyone can create a website.
  3. Credit vs. Debit: The safest way to shop on the Internet is with a credit card. In the event something goes wrong, you are protected under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act. You have the right to dispute charges on your credit card, and you can withhold payments during a creditor investigation. When it has been determined that your credit was used without authorization, you are only responsible for the first $50 in charges. We recommend that you obtain one credit card that you use only for online payments to make it easier to detect wrongful credit charges and keep your other cards from being exposed.  Keep the limit on the credit card as low as you need to meet your shopping budget. No use in have thousands of dollars in open credit if you won’t use it.  This will only allow the thieves to do as little damage as possible if they do in fact, get a hold of your information.

The above tips are three easy ways to protect yourself from those cyber criminals out there who have their eyes on your identity while you have your eyes on that plasma TV at half price. Use them to make sure you come away the victor on Cyber Monday rather than the vanquished.  In addition, if you find any amazing deals on shoes or jewelry, feel free to let me know. You know… just for research purposes.

So Many Shoes, So Little Security: Your Guide To Cyber Monday” was written by Nikki Junker.  Nikki is the Media Manager at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.