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10 Shopping Online Tips For Safer Black Friday and Cyber Monday

2 years ago

It’s that time again, holiday shopping is back! Black Friday and Cyber Monday are, without a doubt, the biggest shopping events of the year. With millions of deals to be had across everything, these events are the best time to bag a bargain.

While it’s obvious that businesses are after your dollars during the holidays, you also need to be wary that cybercriminals are also on the prowl. In a frenzy of shopping, you need to be careful to not fall for online shopping pitfalls. Here are some things to keep in mind that can help you prepare for any potential shopper chaos online!



1. Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) will redirect all of your internet traffic via an encrypted tunnel. This is particularly helpful while buying online since your internet service provider could potentially keep a track of your browsing and purchasing history and then sell it to marketers.

A VPN for online shopping not only shields you from prying eyes and unwanted interference but also offers the possibility of cost savings. As it turns out, the cost of goods and services offered by online retailers and businesses might differ from one region to another. Changing your VPN server's location while shopping online will allow you to see different prices.


2. Do not use public wi-fi for any shopping activity

Whenever possible, avoid shopping online using public Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi is the perfect place for hackers to lurk and eavesdrop on shoppers' private information. These networks feature poor security and can be scanned by scammers looking for weak connections. That makes your personal information a lucrative prey for cybercriminals and advertisers to get their hands on.

If you have no choice but to connect to a public network, a VPN is really a must-have. The encrypted connection will safeguard your data even if someone is eavesdropping on the unsecured connection.


3. Check the website’s security

Always check for the "lock" icon before entering your personal or financial information into a website. Some browsers will display a lock in the address bar, while others will show it up elsewhere. In addition, ensure that the website's URL begins with "https." The 's' stands for 'secure,' indicating that your information is protected by basic TLS encryption from your browser to the shopping site. Both of these indicate that the site uses encryption to safeguard your information.


4. Know what the product should cost

There is an old adage that goes if something is too good to be true, it probably is. If a product's price on an online retailer's website is unusually low compared to competitor websites, there is a high likelihood that it is counterfeit. Also, stay away from clicking on online ads if something seems fishy about the quality or pricing of the product. Check the price of the item on the store's website to make sure it matches the one listed in the online ad. Evaluate the reviews and accounts carefully to see if they sound real or if they were cobbled yesterday.


5. The less information you give, the better

If you decide to sign up for an account or make a purchase from an online retailer, be mindful of what personal information you want to share with the online store. Don't give out any more info than what is required. For instance, no website should require you to enter sensitive information such as your Social Security number or login credentials for another service in order to make a purchase. If they inquire further, it is best to back away quickly because you are likely about to be scammed.

Don’t forget to make purchases as a “guest” user where possible, which means that you will not be required to register an account and your credit card information will not be saved for future transactions.


6. Be wary of scams

Are you aware that phishing is a common technique for fraudsters to obtain your credit card information? During the shopping season, we frequently receive an influx of discount-related emails. While many of these discounts and special offers are legitimate, carefully-crafted email scammers take advantage of this surge to send out their viruses and malware in the hopes that they will get lost in the mix. Typically, they will offer you discounts or deals that are too good to pass up. Be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders or visiting unfamiliar websites.


7. Make sure you use strong and unique passwords

In order to make it more difficult for hackers to access your online shopping accounts, it is essential that you use robust passwords and some kind of two-factor authentication.

Here are some basic password tips you should follow:

  • Using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, numbers, and spaces.
  • Use long, random passwords.
  • And never use the same password for more than one website if you don't want to set yourself up for disaster. While it may seem daunting to come up with different, strong passwords for each online store you frequent, rest assured that there are tools available to assist you to do so, such as password generators and managers.


8. Never save your information

Never save your usernames, passwords, or payment card details on your browser. Clear your offline data, cookies, and browsing history on a periodic basis. In addition, while purchasing online, you should consider using the guest checkout option and the private browsing tool. For example, Google Chrome's Incognito Mode will not save your browser history, cookies, site data, or anything entered into forms. The ease of internet purchasing is unrivaled, but you should never put your safety at risk because of it.


9. Understand your shopping applications

Applications have a way of making your shopping experience more convenient but bear in mind that some apps may also make it easier for thieves to get their hands on your private info. Ensure that you only install and use apps from trusted cyber markets, such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Whether you have doubts about particular programs, be careful to read the evaluations written by valid user accounts, as this will help you determine if anything suspect is associated with them.

Moreover, be sure you're on the correct online shop's website before entering any personal information to complete your transaction. There are a lot of opportunities for hackers and scammers to redirect you to the wrong website, or in other words, spoof the URL.


10. Keep an eye on your credit

Although it may seem to be common sense, it's important to always keep track of everything you buy and its price. This will allow you to quickly react to any hackers or unethical business activities that may be spotted. Companies might exaggerate their discounts or hide any additional fees that won't become apparent until after you've finished making your purchase.

Don't forget to set up to receive a notification every time a purchase is made at an online store with your credit card. Alternatively, you can make it a habit to check your bank statements on a regular basis to make sure that nothing out of the ordinary is going on.

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