Be Safe on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is upon us again, meaning the productivity of businesses everywhere will take their annual hit as employees sneak in some online holiday shopping.  Estimates are that as many as 131 million people will make an online purchase of some sort today. While shopping online has become so easy as to be second nature to many of us, it is still possible to have a (very) bad experience if you inadvertently give up personal information to a criminal or download malware of some sort. So a little caution is healthy. If you plan to be one of the multitudes shopping today, here are a few tips to help insure those online transactions are safe:

Cyber Monday1. Avoid untrusted websites.  Try to do your holiday shopping using sites you have used in the past.  Stay away from brand new sites advertising deals that might be too good to be true – they probably are.

2. If you are suspicious of a site, try “hovering” with your mouse.  This consists of moving your cursor over a “button” or hyperlink, but not clicking on it. When the cursor is over the button, the web address of that link should appear in the lower left of your screen. Check to see if it is really the merchant you intend.

3. Keep an eye out for important signals that a website has proper security and encryption, by looking for the following in the web address: https://  The “s” indicates the website is secure.  Also, a closed padlock icon on your computer’s browser means your data is encrypted.

4. Monitor your credit reports and account statements more regularly this month and next.

5. Pay close attention to messages from your computer software.

6. Make sure your computer protection software is up to date.

7. Shred all personal documents.  Hand-tearing your statements in quarters isn’t good enough.  Most thieves can afford Scotch tape.

8. Only give out necessary information when on-line shopping. If you are asked to provide identifying information that is not required  by the purchase, that should be a red flag that you may not be dealing with a safe site.

9. Consider identity insurance.