This guest post is by Christina Auck
Tis the season! As we gear up to get our holiday shopping done, savvy shoppers are aware that they can get fantastic deals on their wished for items without needing to brave the Black Friday masses. All hail Cyber Monday!
This year’s Cyber Monday is sure to be packed full of discounted products from many companies, giving online customers a chance to forego the chaos of Black Friday and opt instead to relax at their computer while still enjoy huge savings.
Before you let your mouse do the shopping this season, check out these tips to make sure your experience is pleasant and safe:
1. Never enter your credit card or banking information on a page that is not encrypted
During the check-out process, make sure the web address begins with “HTTPS” rather than the standard “HTTP”. The “S” stands for secure and ensures that the transmission path is encrypted. This prevents any “eavesdropping” on your transaction.
Another indicator of a secure transaction is the lock icon in the browser address. This signifies an extra layer of security known as a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Clicking on the lock icon will displat the site’s security certificate.
Using a trusted payment processor like PayPal adds additional security, as your personal information is never shared with the seller. Many, many sites accept PayPal. However, if you want to use some of the popular sites that do not accept PayPal (like Amazon and Best Buy) you can convert PayPal funds into an e-gift card at site like this one and never disclose your payment information.
2. Go to the site directly, rather than clicking on an emailed link
It can be tempting to click on a link received in the email, especially when they’re offering a coupon to a site or product you’re interested in. However, advanced fraudsters use a tactic called cross-site scripting. This shady technique seems to take you to the authentic site but when you enter your payment information, it is sent to the scammer.
The easiest and best way to avoid this scam is to take the little bit of extra effort and always navigate to the site directly, by typing it into your browser address bar. All legitimate sites will offer you a way to receive the same discount without clicking their emailed link.
3. Check the seller’s Refund, Return, Exchange and Shipping policies
Read the fine print! Look for hidden restocking fees, ridiculously high shipping rates and any other additional costs. Be aware of any opt-ins your defaulted into agreeing to. Making sure you are familiar and comfortable with their refund and return policy before purchasing can save a lot of headaches in the future.
First off, make sure they have one and that it is reasonably easy to find. If not, be very wary.
5. Never share your social security number or birthday
Legitimate sellers will never ask for your social security number! The only time this would be appropriate is if you are applying for credit or something of the like. If they want your social security to simply order a product, it’s a big red flag and you should shop elsewhere.
Sharing your birthday may seem innocent and is often asked for with a “so we can send you a gift” clause. While it may occasionally be genuine, it should always be optional. it is not a good idea to share your birthday. It is one of only three or four pieces of information scammers need to steal your identity, open lines of credit in your name and generally cause a while lot of havoc.
Be safe. Be smart. Shop with confidence this holiday season.
If you do think you’ve been scammed, report it to the IC3 (federal Internet Crime Complaint Center) at www.ic3.gov
About guest blogger
Christina Auck is an avid blogger, shopper, runner and gamer and at least half a geek.
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