Shopping for Cyber Monday bargains online is easy, convenient and potentially dangerous. Identity thieves, scams and hackers may be lurking behind certain links, but a wise and wary consumer can protect against such hazards.
TUTORIAL: Credit And Debt Management: Repairing Credit

Here are 12 tips to help you stay safe and secure when shopping online on the Monday after Thanksgiving, the biggest online shopping day of the year.

Keep it Secret
Do not give out any financial information to an online retailer. Keep PINs, passwords, Social Security numbers and other financial information secret. Retailers do not need that information.

Check Out the Seller
Make sure that the online retailer, you intend to deal with, has a good reputation. See if the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has any complaints registered against the retailer. (For additional reading, check out: The Better Business Bureau's Tool Belt For Saving Cash.)

Look for These Icons
An icon on a retailer's website showing an unbroken padlock or key indicates a firewall protection, and encryption software. If you see these icons, the site is likely secure, and your personal and credit card information should be safe.

Keep Your PIN Number Strictly Private
Your family, friends and colleagues do not need to know that number. When entering your PIN number for a computer transaction, conceal it from the people – if any who may be standing behind you.

Make Sure You've Got Protective Software
Make sure you've got a reliable firewall, anti-virus or anti-phishing software installed in your computer. These relatively inexpensive security programs protect against a variety of online hazards.

If In Doubt, Don't Shop on a Suspicious Site
Many scammers have gone to great lengths to create fancy, colorful websites that seem reputable, but are really engineered to get your personal information and use it illegally.

If They Ask, Don't Tell
No legitimate retailer needs to know your social security number. If you're required to enter your social security number, to complete a purchase transaction, odds are you're being scammed. Don't give out your number, and report the site to your BBB, and to the Attorney General's office of your state, or to the Consumer Fraud Division, if there is one in your state.

Look for the SSL Logo
When encountering unfamiliar retailers, or websites, search for the SSL logo on the bottom of the page. The SSL logo represents a standard security technology, which protects transactions and customer data via an encrypted link connecting a web server and a browser. The SSL certificate is required before establishing.

Old Advice, but Good Advice
If an online deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Exceptionally good discounts and bargains are often advertised by scammers as a means of getting credit card information. So, while an advertised bargain seems irresistible, there may be a much bigger price to eventually pay in credit card fraud.

Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Credit Card Statements
When your bank statements and credit card bills come in, check them carefully to make sure you've made all the purchases and transactions listed. Notify your bank or credit card issuer immediately if you notice indications of fraud.

Be Careful on Your Smart Phone
Online shopping by using a smart phone, or cell phone, can also be dangerous. Don't repeat your PIN number, social security number or credit card number over your cell phone. Your call can be easily intercepted and your information stolen.

Change Your Password Regularly
Create a different set of logins and passwords periodically, weekly or monthly. That way, if your login or password is stolen, you'll soon have a new one in place.

The Bottom Line
Millions of consumers will be shopping online on Cyber Monday, and most of them will have no security problems. Still, dangers exists and careless consumers risk being scammed. For the well-informed and security-conscious consumer, however, scams, security threats and the potential for identity theft and credit card fraud can be avoided. (For additional reading, check out: 7 Tips To Avoid Online Scams and Swindles.)

Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    10 Companies That Yuppies Love

    Learn about 10 companies loved by the modern Yuppie, including how this demographic's impressive buying power has boosted these companies' earnings.
  2. Investing News

    How 'Honesty' Could Pay off for Jessica Alba

    Is it possible that Jessica Alba is one of the savviest businesswomen on the planet?
  3. Investing

    Top Websites to Start an Online Business

    The Internet offers nearly endless ideas and opportunities for new businesses. Here are some great resources to get your online business up and running quickly.
  4. Personal Finance

    Invest in Costco? First Understand Its Balance Sheet

    A strong balance sheet sets a company apart and boosts investor confidence. How healthy is Costco based on an analysis of its balance sheets from the last two years?
  5. Investing Basics

    The 5 Reasons Why RadioShack Went Out of Business

    Learn five reasons why RadioShack went bankrupt: store concentration, online competition, product concentration, management issues and financial missteps.
  6. Economics

    Understanding Forward Integration

    Forward integration happens when a business takes over functions that were originally performed by its partners farther down the supply chain.
  7. Stock Analysis

    What Puts the Dollars in Priceline's Bottom Line?

    The Priceline Group is more successful than it may appear and is on track to enjoy tremendous profits down the road.
  8. Active Trading Fundamentals

    How Groupon Makes Money

    Find out how Groupon makes money, including a rundown of how Groupon works and what benefits it provides to the businesses it partners with.
  9. Stock Analysis

    J.C. Penney: Identity Crisis or Buy Opportunity?

    With so many recent leadership changes, J.C. Penney might be suffering from an identity crisis. Here's why and what you need to know.
  10. Stock Analysis

    The Logic Behind Sears' REIT

    Learn what strategy Sears employed with the divestment of its 266 real estate properties to a separate real estate investment trust.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Substitute

    A product or service that a consumer sees as comparable. If prices ...
  2. Fast Fashion

    Definition of "fast fashion."
  3. Duty Free

    Goods that international travelers can purchase without paying ...
  4. Credit Card Dump

    The unauthorized copying of all the information contained in ...
  5. Transaction Authentication Number ...

    A one-time code used in the processing of online transactions.
  6. PIN Cashing

    A type of fraud in which a stolen credit card or debit card is ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How can I invest in electronic retailing (e-tailing)?

    Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between JIT (just in time) and CMI (customer managed inventory)?

    Just-in-time (JIT) inventory management focuses solely on the need to replenish inventory only when it is required, reducing ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What factors make it difficult to compare performance ratios between retail stocks?

    Companies that operate in the retail sector significantly differ in terms of their profitability and efficiency, making stock ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Which socially responsible retailers appeal most to ethical investors?

    Ethical investors have many reasons to consider companies in the retail sector. The sector is broad and features an abundance ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!