Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year with $6.6 billion in sales. While consumers are busy capitalizing on the best holiday deals, it is important to remember to safeguard your personal information and shop safely. Scammers will be working overtime today and throughout the holiday season looking for ways to access shoppers’ personal information to open up new account in their names, take out loans, and even file for unemployment assistance.
Shopping online has become the preferred method of shopping for many consumers. In fact, according to Adobe Digital Insights consumers have spent $28.6 billion shopping online the first 21 days of November, up nearly 18 percent over last year.
The biggest threat consumers’ face when shopping online is identity theft. When you shop online, a lot of your personal information is required for you to make a purchase. Make sure you are shopping online at credible websites, merchants and trusted retailers. Be wary of websites that are selling “too good to be true” offers. Usually, they are just that. Verify a secured connection by looking for a padlock in the browser address bar and make sure the web address starts with https://. The “s” stands for secured.
Here are some additional online shopping safety tips to remember this Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season.
- Make sure you are purchasing items using a credit card with a chip in it. The e-chip generates a unique code for each transaction.
- Do not use free Wi-Fi on your mobile device. When shopping online, make sure you are using a secure Internet connection. Do not do any sort of transaction that involves personal, financial, or credit card information while using an open and unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Use your own data plan or home wireless system to purchase online safely. Not doing so can leave you vulnerable to fraudsters adding malware to your device and when you go to make a purchase or login to your bank account, they can record sensitive personal information and passwords.
- Beware of phishing scams. This is how many criminals get your credit card and personal information, often posing as trusted retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart, offering huge discounts. Never click on the links provided in these emails.
- Dedicate only one credit card to online purchases. Credit cards generally offer better purchase protection and fraud dispute than other payment method. Use a second account to pay bills, groceries, etc. This way if the card is compromised, it is easy to simply close out the account and request a new card.
- When entering payment information online, you should verify that HTTPS is in your address bar to protect yourself from identity theft. URLs that begin with https:// instead of the standard http:// are secured by SSL – an internet security protocol.
- Do not be fooled by confusingly similar website and domain names. Pay close attention to your retailer’s URL when shopping online.
The Department of Homeland Security offers useful and practical information at StopThinkConnect.org. Another online shopping consumer resource is the National Cyber Security Alliance at StaySafeOnline.org. If you have been a victim of cyber crime, or get suspicious phishing emails, report them to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov. This site posts alerts on data breaches and emerging internet crime schemes.
If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.