Safety Tips for Biggest Online Shopping Period of the Year

Online shopping around Black Friday and Cyber Monday has become the biggest online shopping period of the year. There’s nothing like finding the best price on the 4K television you’ve always wanted, but are you buying it safely? Don’t end up like thousands of victims this time of year, having your new gadget and an empty bank account or identity stolen.

Sheriff Robert Bryan and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office reminds you to follow the practices below so that you remain Cyber secure on Cyber Monday – and all other days of the year.

1) Verify the deals sent to you in an email. Your inbox likely gets full with amazing Cyber Monday and holiday deals. Most are legitimate and likely good deals. But, there will be spam or phishing mixed in there. Phishing emails will look like Cyber Monday deals but are really designed to get you to click on malicious links that will infect your computer with malware, or steal your personal information. Many of these links will appear to be legitimate websites, so remember to double-check the URL, and if possible, go to the website directly through your browser rather than clicking on the link from the email.

2) Make sure the website is secure. Before entering your details and credit card information, make sure you see a lock icon and the word “Secure” in the URL bar. This will ensure that the information you share with that website will be handled securely and encrypted. 

3) Create strong, memorable, and individual passwords. Shopping quickly to get the deals is convenient, especially when you use the same password on all the shopping sites. However, taking this shortcut could cost you in the long run. Never use the same password for all your Cyber Monday and holiday shopping websites. Create a unique password for each. If you’re like most shoppers and can’t remember a different password for each website, use a password manager app.

4) Use your credit card. Never shop with your debit card. Use a credit card to put a level of protection between you and the website. If you use a special credit card, you can cancel it if one of your Cyber Monday websites gets hacked. This will also make it easier to spot weird activity on the card. There are several free pre-paid credit cards and App-based credit cards to isolate your account information.

5) Watch out for fake shopping and “deal” apps. Many of us shop on our mobile devices, so be careful about downloading any new Cyber Monday deal apps. One of the worst are copycat apps that appear to be legitimate deal apps but their sole purpose is to infect your phone and steal your personal information.

6) Share as little information as possible. Websites that ask for more than your email address and credit card info may be asking for too much. Always try to provide the bare minimum personal information. While it may be convenient to set up an account with an online retailer to make future shopping easier, you don’t have to and if that’s the only way to buy from the website, look elsewhere.

7) Search safely. We all can spend hours searching Google, Bing and other websites to find the absolute best price on the most wanted gifts, but there’s also a lot of bad or sketchy links out there. Most search engines do a good job of keeping you away from the bad links, but aggregation websites are scraping the internet for products and pricing. Some bad guys know how this works and set up websites that look like legitimate shopping websites, but they may actually be designed to steal your identity. If the website lacks the security lock icon or is hosted outside the U.S., take a moment to consider the other options.