Thanksgiving weekend, which includes both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, has quickly become the biggest online shopping event of the year.
Cyber Monday is rapidly growing as more shoppers are doing their holiday shopping online, where there are no big crowds, as opposed to going to the mall and local stores. Online shopping is convenient for everyone with access to the internet. It requires no driving to the shops, no looking for parking, and no wasting time waiting in lines. However, with the joy of Online Shopping, comes big responsibility: Online safety and awareness is something we should keep in mind all year long. Nevertheless, on significant online events like Cyber Monday, it's especially crucial as just like the sales exceed on this day, so do the hackers and scammers.
By following five simple guidelines, you can ensure your safety in this online shopping season.
1. Website URL check:
Always check the URL of the website from which you are considering to make a purchase. For example, if you're looking to shop on Amazon, make sure it says "amazon.com" on the URL bar. If you clicked on an ad that took you to an amazon sale, it could be a fraud in disguise. For example, see below a cloned website that's identical to Amazon, but the URL is different.
2. Look out for the fox in your inbox:
Brace yourself. Your mail inbox will be swamped, really swamped. Almost every company that has an online presence will be sending emails on Cyber Monday. BTW we also send out (amazing) emails on Cyber Monday - you can click safely on those, we promise!
Common phishing emails on Cyber Monday are ones disguised as delivery or payment follow up emails. Hackers know that numerous consumers are expecting emails from companies like PayPal and FedEx, so they capitalize on it by luring victims to open and click on emails to supposedly "update shipping address" or "approve payment method urgently." Although these emails can be real, it's important to double and triple check the sender is legit. If you are worried about clicking a link in an email - type it out instead, and better yet use a browsing tool like [Guardio](https://guard.io), that even if you click on a dangerous link, it will warn you if you are about to enter a scam site.
3. Don't do your Cyber Monday shopping while using public wifi.
When you browse on public wifi, the network is usually unencrypted. This means that people can see what unencrypted web pages you're viewing and what you're typing into unencrypted web forms. These networks can be easily hacked, and your information could be very vulnerable. It's always best to do your online shopping at home or somewhere you know is secure. Cyber Monday is a known day for online shopping, and hackers will be trying to hack public wifis and stealing people's information.
4. Be financially responsible.
Keep track of every transaction you make and follow up on your bank statements. If your information was stolen, the sooner you'll find out, the more likely that you will be able to minimalize the damage. This recommendation goes out all year long, but especially on days like Cyber Monday, where you could lose track of your transactions pretty fast.
5. Browse with protection:
Tools like Guardio can alert you about a scam site, so if you get to an unfamiliar website that looks tempting, you'll know if it's legit or not. You could also have malicious apps installed on your device that you don't know about, spying on your activity and trying to steal your information.
Shopping online is great; it's fun, and it saves time. Just make sure it saves your money and doesn't lose it. Keep your eyes open and share these tips with your contacts, so we can all have a scam-free Cyber Monday.