Tips to be cyber-safe this holiday season

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may mark the high points of the holiday shopping season, but they are by no means the end of it.  At this time of year with everyone searching for value, consumers will encounter technology deals that might seem too good to be true. Online shopping may well top $1 billion dollars on a single day this year.  With more and more consumers willing to spend money online, sales will rise, but so will the risk of exposure to some sort of scam or cyber-crime right alongside those fabulous deals. So how can you avoid being taken advantage of? There are many ways to keep yourself, your privacy, and your money safe this holiday season.  But, as the countdown to Christmas grows shorter, many of us abandon our common sense in the desperate pursuit of that one great gift or that one fantastic deal. The number one way to guard against online scams is to employ some common sense. While many of the deals offered on such sites are perfectly legitimate, the likelihood of stumbling into a scam is far greater on these sorts of sites.

Tip #1 : If a deal seems too greatit probably is, especially if it’s from an individual user or a minor’ retailer.  Be suspicious of any deal or sale that you can’t believe is real.  Maybe you’ve found the best buy of the season, but it’s more likely that you’ve stumbled into a scam set up to defraud you and steal your money or information.

Tip #2: Do some research about any online vendor you’re considering making a purchase from.  Some vendors believe quality customer service goes hand in hand with turning a profit.  Others however seem to value their bottom line over the satisfaction of their customers.

Tip #3: For the online shopper: understand your credit cards. Some attackers were able to take advantage of customers because of the rules set up by the credit cards those customers use. With credit card purchases being the dominant form of online shopping, it’s vital that consumers know the policies of the cards they use and what recourse they have should those policies be abused.

Tip #4: Consumers would also be wise to investigate other forms of payment, such as PayPal or Bill Me Later, a PayPal service.  While alternative methods may not offer the convenience of credit cards, they may provide more security against potential scams and those who know how to abuse the system.

Tip #5: Be cautious.  The Internet can be a dangerous place at the best of times.  During the often stressful and expensive holiday season the dangers increase exponentially. Be wary every time you shop online and help to make sure this time remains a time of giving, and not of taking.

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