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Cyber Monday: Protect Yourself and Your Wallet

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is a marketing idea that was invented to promote online shopping before people learned to shop online. It is less meaningful today than it was a few years ago. As you undoubtedly know, most online deals have been available since just before Thanksgiving. There are a few extraordinary specials to be found, but not as many as in the past. That said, there will be a few “Cyber Monday” specials. Use sites and apps like shopsavvy or www.buzzillions.com to find them.

Walmart and Amazon have been running big discounts all week and you will find deals on electronics, toys and apparel there. There are dozens of “Cyber Monday” sites like cybermonday.com that specialize in Cyber Monday deals. If you’re interested in taking advantage of the day, Google “Cyber Monday” and have at it.

While you’re surfing, make sure you don’t get a gift you don’t want. Be sure to protect yourself while shopping. Here are my five tips to safe shopping on Cyber Monday:

Make sure your AntiVirus software is up to date. Cyber Monday is the perfect day to pick up an unwanted computer virus. You will be visiting sites you don’t usually visit. Update your AntiVirus software BEFORE you start.

  1. Shop websites you know and trust. Alien and strange websites will offer great deals. They may be legitimate, but a little paranoia will serve you well. Trust, but verify. Do a quick Google search on the site or business name with the words, “problem” or “issue” or “never received” and see what comes up. This is the Internet: caveat emptor.
  2. Don’t believe unbelievable deals – and don’t click on any email that offers them. That’s how you catch computer viruses. Phishing with topical emails as bait is a well-used, well-understood way that hackers get you to install malware. Do not click on anything you suspect may not be what it seems. Seriously, iPad Minis for $100 do not exist. Why click on an offer like that?
  3. Look for https:// in the address bar of your browser and the “lock” symbol in the lower-right corner of your browser to ensure a secure URL for payment. The “s” at the end of http stands for “secure.” That’s your indication that you are on a secure connection. You can still purchase from an online shopping cart that does not display https:// in the address, but your information is less secure. The vast majority of trustworthy sites secure their payment gateways.
  4. Pay with a credit card. You are safer and Federal Law protects you. Don’t use a debit card and try not to use PayPal or any other payment service on a site that you don’t always do business with. If you use a major credit card, Federal Law protects you. You can dispute the charge and, should anything happen your liability is limited to $50 or, in some cases to $0. On Cyber Monday, credit cards rule!

If you need to sign up for a site you don’t usually do business with, use a junk email account to reduce your spam. Other than that – go forth and seek all the Cyber Monday bargains you can afford. Just remember: it’s still a few weeks before the holidays and prices are not going to go up.

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Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

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