The holiday shopping season should be a time of having fun with friends and chasing great deals. Unfortunately, plenty of less than savory individuals in the digital world can’t wait to take advantage of you on Cyber Monday. Just like their real-life compatriots on Black Friday, these criminals prey upon the ill-prepared and the uninformed. With this in mind, let’s spend a few minutes going over these finer points of digital identity protection. This way, you can stay focused on grabbing those sales you’ve been looking forward to all year long and avoid a digital calamity.
Exert Caution When Chatting with Other Online Individuals
One of the easiest ways a criminal can compromise your private information comes from browsing online forums and chat rooms. As Claudia Buck of the Sacramento Bee explains in her look at cyber security for the holiday shopping season, these illicit forces on the web peek and pry for even the smallest way into your personal online space. What may seem like an innocuous conversation regarding digital coupons and Cyber Monday deals could lead to identity theft or even threats of extortion, so exert caution with what info you make public in the digital world. Once it’s there, it’s virtually impossible scrub away any traces of this private data before it falls into the hands of hackers and other outside forces.
Purchase Only from Trusted Online Retailers
When it comes to actually making a purchase, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) explains that even if it costs a little more, only make purchases from trusted online retailers. While the more cavalier shoppers don’t have a problem jumping on a deal that seems “too good to be true,” the reality is that many of these deals fall directly into this category thanks to shady web operations.
A convincing and functional site doesn’t take much time or effort to publish, so letting your eyes fool you and trusting the aesthetic appeal of a page to guide your purchase decisions is an easy way to have your identifying information fall into the hands of malicious entities. If a site doesn’t have an established or proven track record, chances are you’re better off finding a more reputable outlet.
If You Have a Question, Don’t Be Afraid to Explore It
Another key point that goes into protecting your identity from theft in the online world this Cyber Monday is to always ask questions. Does this retailer have a working email domain and a legitimate physical contact address? What about reviews via the local BBB branch? If at any point in the purchasing process, you have a question about payment security or the veracity of the retailer, don’t be afraid to pump the breaks and do a little research.
Sure, you’ll spend a couple extra minutes double-checking the facts, but this small time expenditure is nothing compared to the disaster that is full-blown identity theft during the holiday season. Whether you’re a world class bargain hunter or just looking to pick up a quick deal, taking these steps can keep your Cyber Monday on track to be a fun and exciting shopping event.