By the time you read this blog, you probably will have already snapped up the Black Friday deals you were looking for. So now is the perfect time to get your plan together for an even bigger shopping event – Cyber Monday.

Last year, Cyber Monday saw nearly $6.59 billion in sales – a 16.8 percent increase over 2016 – making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, according to Adobe Analytics Data. In comparison, Black Friday shoppers spent a mere $5.03 billion, which was still an impressive 16.9 percent increase of 2016 – also a new spending record for a day.

Adobe Analytics also found more people were turning to their smartdevices to shop Cyber Monday in 2017. Last year, mobile commerce hit $2 billion in sales for the first time.

As more and more people turn to online and mobile devices for shopping, analysts expect 2018 to see even more online spending.

While you are all cozied up on the couch with your credit card and coffee shopping for those must have gifts, remember that cybercriminals are also shopping – but they are shopping for your confidential information and access to your bank accounts.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe while shopping online:

FAKE HOLIDAY PROMOTIONS, PRODUCTS: During this time of year, you will see many fake promotions hoping to lure unsuspecting shoppers to a malicious site with promises of huge discounts on the hottest must-haves. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. More than likely that promotion will require you to take a survey or enter contact information. Steer clear. Similarly, if you receive spam emails on cool products from an unrecognized company – don’t order anything until you know the company is legit.

UNSECURED WIFI: You know what malicious actors love? Unsecured, public WiFi. Since you have no idea who could be connected to the WiFi signal you are using, you are vulnerable to dangers such as man in the middle attacks. In these instances, it is best to not make any credit card purchases. If you absolutely have to use public WiFi, be sure you are connecting to the correct WiFi provider and that they are using a valid SSL (secure socket layer) certificate.

TRIED AND TRUE WEBSITES: Shop the sites you know – Amazon, Target, Best Buy, etc. It’s best to skip sites that use a different top-level domain (think .net instead of .com), even if they are offering that Apple Watch Series 4 for $99.

SECURE SITES: You found the deal of the century on that new 98-inch television! You’re ready to lock in that deal with credit card in hand. Not so fast. Before you enter that number, is the site secure? Does it have SSL (secure socket layer) encryption (hint, the URL should start with https instead of http)? If you have any hesitation, may be best to pass on this deal. If you are shopping on an unsecured network, hackers could easily access personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, etc.

PAYPAL/EBAY PHISHING: Avoid clicking on links that are provided in an email, especially if you are unsure of the sender. A frequent trick spammers use during the holidays is to embed links to a fake eBay or PayPal log-in page. Rather than follow links in emails, type it directly into your browser.

LOCK IT DOWN: And by it, we mean your computer. Do you have an antivirus installed? Is it up to date? Do you have a security suite that includes antivirus protection to help fight spam, spearphishing, phishing. etc. No? Maybe that should be the number one thing on your Christmas list this year.

MOBILE SHOPPING

The convenience of shopping from your phone could also be a super-convenient way for hackers to get to scam you out of your personal information or your money. Check out these tips to make sure your mobile shopping is safe.

APP OVERLOAD: Only download apps from trusted sources such as the Apple App Store or Google Play. Take any app that promises a paid app for free with a dose of skepticism.

CHECK THE URL: Just like if you were shopping on a desktop computer, you will want to make sure the site you are purchasing from is secure. Check the URL for the https before entering any personal information or credit card numbers.

CAREFUL WHERE YOU CLICK: This time of year, you may be receiving many unsolicited emails, texts and or seeing ads on social media for “GREAT DEALS” on this hot toy or that new 4K TV. Before you click that link provided, know where it is going. Make sure that the URL matches the website the “offer” is coming from.

SET YOUR DEVICE: In the hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy to misplace things – and your phone is no exception. To make sure your personal data stored on your phone remains as safe as possible, be sure to set a strong password as well as set your auto-lock time to be as short as possible.

GET UPDATED: Just like with a PC, you will want to make sure your browser and any shopping apps you intend to use are as current as possible to ensure they have the latest security features.

MOBILE SECURITY APPS: Just like a PC, you will want to make sure you have secured your smart devices. There are several apps on the market that can help you do just that. Apps such as Lookout, Last Pass Authenticator, SaferVPN – can all help keep your personal data safe.

STAY VIGILANT

Even with every safeguard in place, nothing is foolproof. If you feel your information may have been compromised, you will want to monitor all credit card and banking activity for any unusual activity – no matter how big or small. Make sure you stay on top of where you are spending money and how much you are spending with each transaction.

Be sure to freeze your cards if you notice any unusual or fraudulent activity and report it immediately.

Now, maybe it’s time you got back to work – it is Monday, remember?

 

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