Daily Archives: 11/28/2011
Posted by Talknowledgy
’tis the season for holiday shopping and what better time than Cyber Monday to talk about the risks of buying presents over the internet, and how to protect yourself?
Black Friday saw consumers cramming into big box retailers, and Small Business Saturday encouraged shoppers to spend their money at local businesses. Today, we’re encouraged to take our gift-buying online. Whatever your preferred shopping destination, it’s not hard to imagine why making your purchasesonline might pose the most risk (sure, you could get trampled or pepper-sprayed on Black Friday, but the odds of that happening are a lot lower than getting your information stolen on Cyber Monday). So here’s a few tips to help keep you safe if you shop online this holiday season:
Use a Credit Card
While your gut reaction might be to avoid using a credit card, if you keep an eye on your statements and report any fraudulent purchases it is much safer than using debit online. Also, you can buy pre-paid credit cards that have a set limit on them, further minimizing your risk. Some sites will allow you to use gift cards as well, so consider doing that where possible.
Have some type of malware protection for your computer. This goes double if you’re shopping using someone else’s wireless network, or a public access network. Also, make sure the software is up to date.
Ok, what I really mean to say here is: if you’re sent a link by a friend for a product on a website, go to the site yourself and find the product there yourself. Scammers are especially active today, and will try to take over people’s accounts so they can dupe the friends and family of their victim. It may look like a perfectly innocent link, but it could be directing you to a fake site that will install malware and you may not even realize it until much later.
Furthermore, be careful of the retailers that you deal with online. I stick to mostly the big, name-brand ones because they have a trustworthy reputation (places like Amazon, and ThinkGeek). Smaller companies aren’t bad necessarily, but if you’re unfamiliar with their reputation look it up or ask other people if they’ve dealt with the company before.
Final note on this section: don’t look at an advertisement offering an iPad 2 for $19.34 and expect that it must be a perfectly legitimate offer and nothing could possibly go wrong. Because…
If It’s Too Good To Be True…
It probably is. Whether it’s a ridiculous price, or the seller has the hottest holiday gadget in stock on Christmas Eve, or they’re offering free, overnight, international shipping…be wary, and start looking elsewhere.
Shopping online can be fun, and you can get some really great deals. But the important thing to remember is there’s a responsible way to do it, and you need to make sure your information is safe this holiday season.
Happy shopping! And be sure to tell us about any hot deals you got on tech items during Cyber Monday!