Today marks Cyber Monday, a marketing term coined to push people to e-commerce sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving. It has become the Black Friday of the e-commerce world, often representing the biggest online shopping day of the year. In fact, Cyber Monday 2020 was the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, with a total of $10.7 billion in online spending.
While online shopping has become normalized and while it is relatively secure, there are still a few tips you should remember to be safe this holiday season.
- Only shop on sites you trust - Now is not the time to make purchases from unknown or unrecognized vendors. As in the physical world, if a deal looks too good to be true, it likely is and can be posted by an untrusted vendor as part of a phishing exercise. Or if you are buying a hard to find item at a markup, it could be from an untrusted vendor using an automated program to capture all of the sale items and sell them at a large markup. Buying new items from resellers opens you to an increased risk of fraud and counterfeit goods. Plus, don't use Wish.
- Do not click links within an advertising email - These can be easily spoofed and it can be extremely difficult to verify. Can you tell the difference between a Latin "a" and a Cyrillic "a" for example if used once in a bankofamerica link? Instead, go directly to the merchant's main website. This can help save you from potential phishing attacks and the issues that could follow.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi while shopping - It can be very tempting to connect to a store's free Wi-Fi while you are shopping to save on your data usage. But please know, public Wi-Fi is not secure, meaning if you do connect to it, you should not use it for any browsing that would transfer sensitive information. Don't access important accounts like banking and do not shop online while connected. Save those for when you are back on your private network.
- Keep an eye on your bank statements - Watch for duplicate or unrecognized charges on receipts and billing statements. This is your first line of defense against identity theft and fraud. Flag any suspicious activity and raise it with your bank or credit card company immediately.
Cyber-shopping can be a great time saver and a great resource. I love its utility and breadth of access. I just hope we can all stay safe this holiday season, including cyber-safe.